Monday, August 24, 2015

Bon Jovi's Burning Bridges - The End of a Chapter or the Beginning of a New One?

Bon Jovi's new LP, titled Burning Bridges, was released on August 21 and it's the first album in the band's thirty-two year history in which Richie Sambora does not perform. (At least I think he doesn't play.  There are no musician credits that I can find at the time of this writing, so I'm speculating.) Richie did receive a songwriting credit for one of the songs, though. 

In the weeks before the album dropped, Burning Bridges was promoted on an unusually small scale and was said to be a "fan album."  Not entirely sure of what that term meant, I honestly had no idea of what to expect in terms of the final product.

I listened to Burning Bridges twice on Spotify Friday evening, the day of the album's release.  Earlier this summer, rumors circulated that this album would essentially be a collection of songs from previous recording sessions (i.e. songs that didn't make the cut on previous albums) and two new songs.  After listening to the album in its entirety, I believe those rumors to be true.

I don't hate Burning Bridges, but I'm not ecstatic about it either.  There were a few songs I liked: "Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning;" "We All Fall Down," despite the over abundant use of cliches (seriously, how many cliches can one song contain?); and the typical, in true Bon Jovi fashion, it's us against them anthem "We Don't Run."  The remaining 7 songs, with the exception of the 10th and final track, "Burning Bridges" (more on that in a moment), left me feeling rather... Meh.  

Overall, I'm not impressed, but given the fact that the majority of these songs are essentially rejects, I suppose that's to be expected.

Now, about the last song on the album. When I first learned that the album was titled Burning Bridges, I was a bit concerned that it and the accompanying title track were meant as a jab at Sambora for his decision to leave the band.  

Small side note here:  I've been a loyal fan of Bon Jovi since 1986.  Yes, during those 29 years I've had a crush/mental love affair with their frontman, Jon, but I have always been, first and foremost, a true fan of the band.  Although I'm sad that the Bon Jovi that I have known and loved for 70% of my life is no more, I hold no ill feelings towards Richie for his departure.  The way I see it, Richie had to do what he had to do as a parent and as an artist.

Anyway, before listening to the 10th and final track in full on Spotify, I listened to a portion of it on iTunes.  Listening to that snippet, still under the impression that the song was about Richie, I was appalled. Honestly, I sat in my living room and stared out the window with my mouth open in shock and thought, "Seriously, Jon? Was this kind of dig really necessary?"  However, after listening to the song in its entirety and paying very close attention to the lyrics, I discovered that it's not about Richie at all.  The timing of Richie's departure and the release of this album and its title is just a coincidence.  I think the song is directed towards their record company.  

My theory is this: "fan album" = "contractually obligated album" and Jon is not happy about it; hence the use of leftover songs and the symbolically titled last song on the album, "Burning Bridges," a campy, slightly country, sing along type song that expresses Jon's sentiments, no holds barred.
"Sayonara, adios, auf wiedersehen, farewell.  Adieu, good night, good (...?)  Here's the last song you can sell.  Let's call it Burning Bridges, it's a sing along as well.  Chao, adieu, good (...?)  Play it for your friends in hell."
Once I realized that the song was not attacking Richie, I couldn't help but appreciate Jon's candor and found amusement in the comedic aspect of the song.  Leave it to Jon to get the symbolic, musical last word.

The band has indicated that they are, despite the recent release of Burning Bridges, currently working a full scale studio album that is set to release sometime in 2016.  This also supports my theory that they are parting ways with their long time record company.  

Final thoughts:

Burning Bridges is mediocre and I would advise anyone to listen to the album on Spotify before committing to the purchase of the album.  As for me, I will probably buy the few songs I like from iTunes, but I will not buy the entire album.

Even though this is technically the first album without Richie, I think it's too early to determine the sound of "post-Sambora" Bon Jovi. I do not believe this album is a good indicator given the probable nature of it being a "let's fulfill our contract and get the heck out of Dodge" album.  Also, given the lack of musician credits, there is no definitive way to know who performed on which songs or when the tracks were recorded.  Some of what we hear on Burning Bridges may in fact be Richie's work.  I think fans will have to wait until 2016 to truly hear what Bon Jovi sans Sambora sounds like.

As for my answer to the question, I think that Burning Bridges is the end of a chapter.  I think Bon Jovi's new chapter will truly begin in 2016.  Of course, time will tell.

Have you listened to Burning Bridges?   What did you think of it?

Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

  1. i haven't listened to it, i didn't even know they were releasing a new album! truthfully i only know a few songs of theirs (probably the most popular, cliche ones!). i'll have to check it out, thanks for the detailed review!


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