Bon Jovi’s first album since guitarist Richie Sambora’s departure doesn’t tear up the old formula. There are still stadium-ready rock songs and chant-friendly choruses. Jon Bon Jovi’s familiar well-weathered vocals tell stories of living in dreams, walking through hard rains and occasional ending up “higher than a rocket”. However, walls of guitars have been replaced by a brasher, more keyboard-based pop sound, and not all the post-Sambora tunes land as they should. The ghastly Knockout, with any nearby kitchen sink hurled in, sounds as if the singer is trying hard to convince himself that such over-egged nonsense is, well, “knockout”. But elsewhere there’s an intriguing new vulnerability. Labor of Love – reminiscent of, of all things, Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game – is beautiful and sincere; and the country-tinged Scars On My Guitar, a love song to the instrument, is more touching than daft. There are recurring themes of change and new beginnings, although Reunion says, “Start your revolution, I’ll see you at the reunion.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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