rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Legendary
02. We Made It Look Easy
03. Living Proof
04. Waves
05. Seeds
06. Kiss The Bride
07. The People's House
08. Walls Of Jericho
09. I Wrote You A Song
10. Living In Paradise
11. My First Guitar
12. Hollow Man

You'd likely be hard pressed to find many in the 1980s who would have expected BON JOVI to still be cranking out new music and touring the globe some 40-plus years later, but here we are, and BON JOVI are among a handful of blockbuster classic rock bands still as active as ever. The band released their self-titled debut album in 1984 and now, a full 40 years later, they're back with a new album, "Forever".

"Forever" marks BON JOVI's 16th studio album and their follow-up to 2020, which was, yes, released in 2020. It's worth noting that while BON JOVI are still going strong, the band's lineup has changed over the years. Although founding lead guitarist Richie Sambora is still estranged from the band, Jon Bon Jovi still heads up the ship, and this time out founding bandmates keyboardist David Bryan and drummer Tico Torres are joined again by bass player Hugh McDonald and guitarist Phil X.

What's also interesting about "Forever" is that it comes following Jon opening up about his recent struggles with his vocals. He's been dealing with a range of issues over the past few years, including vocal problems that eventually required surgery. A series on HULU, called "Thank You, Goodnight: The BON JOVI Story", chronicles his vocal issues and gives some insight in to the Sambora saga.

Vocally, his voice sounds full, powerful and remians the voice BON JOVI fans have come to expect and love. That's a relief, because Jon's voice is the BON JOVI brand and legacy.

Lead single and album opener "Legendary" is representative of BON JOVI's traditional sound but goes even further in a pop direction than the '80s hits. The song is a feel-good anthem with sparkling guitars, a catchy chorus and Jon's raw, earnest vocals. It's a summer song, with a breezy vibe and upbeat rhythm that just puts you in a good mood. "We Made It Look Easy" follows, offering another laid-back melodic rock anthem. Here, Jon looks back on his youth and his journey in music and life.

Those wanting the heavier, more rocked-out version of BON JOVI might be skeptical after hearing the album's first two songs, but those fears should be put to rest with "Living Proof". Opening with guitars / talk box reminiscent of "Livin' On A Prayer" and "It's My Life", the song launches into a hard-hitting rock number.

Elsewhere, "Waves" features some sparce acoustic guitar that makes way to highlight Jon's voice. "Kiss the Bride", which Jon wrote for his daughter Stephanie Bongiovi to play on her wedding day, is a tearjerker, with Jon singing about his love for his beautiful daughter and what it feels like to give her away. Album closer "Hollow Man" brings a slow-moving groove.

"Forever" is very BON JOVI, but it does take the band in a softer direction than their '80s days. Jon and his bandmates are in a different life phase than they were in the '80s, artists and bands evolve over time and this album speaks to the experience.

Author: Anne Erickson
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