Universal Music

Audio CD: Rs. 395

It’s been a four-year wait since their last album The Circle and the poster boys of American rock n’ roll are back! What About Now is Bon Jovi’s 12th studio album. Produced by John Shanks, it was released early last month.

Comprising 12 tracks, the album starts off with Jon Bon Jovi trying to make a powerful statement on ‘Because We Can’ as he croons: I don’t wanna be another wave in the ocean / I am a rock not just another grain of sand / I wanna be the one you run to when you need a shoulder / I ain’t a soldier but I’m here to take a stand. Known for their infectious lines, this song, though not very potent, does manage to strike a chord with the listener especially because the band uses a tried-and-tested formula.

‘I’m With You’ picks up from where the opener leaves off and almost qualifies as a stadium rock anthem but it doesn’t quite hit its crest. ‘What About Now’ is a little more upbeat than the previous two tracks as the enlivening drumming gives it its brilliant tempo. The listener is taken back into the 1980s with ‘Pictures Of You’. The reverberation and feel are evocative of that time in their career. The stunning guitar solo by Richie Sambora is what you would love the most about this song.

‘Amen’ isn’t a Gospel offering, yet, like one, it is slow and ballady, but is unfortunately a forgettable track. ‘What’s Left Of Me’ is a refreshing country-rock oriented offering. It’s that sing-along kind of song. With its motivational slogans, ‘Army Of One’ comes across as a typical feel-good song. It showcases some army-marching drumming style, an organ thrown in for good measure, but Bon Jovi’s optimism might get a little nauseous.

‘Thick As Thieves’ is a personal favourite from this album as it is a classic Bon Jovi ballad. Good instrumentation and heartfelt lyrics make this a winner. While ‘Beautiful World’ comprises strong hooks, it’s a pity that the uber-talented lead guitarist doesn’t really do much beyond indispensable arpeggios and sporadic, offhand licks.

The closer is ‘The Fighter’ and you must not let the title trick you into expecting a throbbing rock anthem because this track is quite the opposite! Slow, melancholic, and mostly acoustic, with very less need for other instruments, the song, which is about overcoming struggle, draws its strength largely from Bon Jovi’s emotional vocals.

Other songs on this album include ‘That’s What The Water Made Me’, ‘What’s Left Of Me’ and ‘Room At The End Of The World’.

What About Now has its share of hits and misses. Overall, it is a nice album, but doesn’t showcase anything groundbreaking. After a listen, you would perhaps wish it had more memorable hooks, a little more rock and a little less of Bon Jovi’s positivism. This album might not really find Bon Jovi a new fan following. Nonetheless, the old ones would still be aficionados.

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