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Bon Jovi: Keep the Faith

After both Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora released solo albums and a four-year hiatus, the duo joined forces to release Keep the Faith, which was meant to be a more serious album right from the get-go. Besides carrying the band's arena rock anthems, it was also meant to be a nod to the working-class ethics of Bruce Springsteen, focusing heavily on thoughtout lyrics and messages -- and it became a success.

The Springsteen influence is remarkable on the album opener "I Believe": it merges the signature Bon Jovi sound treated to a more updated version and the gospel revivalist feel of Springsteen songs. Sambora's guitar wail is carefully placed under the thick bass stomp and Bon Jovi's trademark screams, but the melody is gripping and infectious. As with earlier releases, Desmond Child helped them finish two other hits: the ambitious title track, driven by an amazing vocal delivery, profound lyrics, and Torres' drum syncopation; and the more upbeat number "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead", which revisits the band's earlier hook-laden cuts, chock full of catchy choruses and harmony vocals.

The reason why Keep the Faith stands out from its predecessor is certainly the inclusion of songs exhibiting more maturity and depth. "Dry Country", at nearly minutes, is an amazing melodic hard rocker graced by a timeless melody. The piano theme that sets the tone of the piece is cleverly repeated during the pre-chorus and simultaneously as the lyrics are delivered -- it's a sign of Jon Bon Jovi's mastery of hook and songwriting. Even Richie Sambora, whose guitar work has always been behind the band's crushing rhythm section, gets to put his lead playing on display, cutting it loose for a good two minutes.

Likewise, while still serving his pop-driven rock ballads in the form of "I Want You", Jon Bon Jovi also begins to show signs of artistic growth as both a lyricist and musician. The combination of "In These Arms" and "Bed of Roses" is easily the band's most powerful one-two punch ballad ever. The former sees considerable input by David Bryan; he injects neat keyboard work which introduces the main melody for Jon to sing over and add his own touch to it. The latter, on the other hand, is quite possibly the band's most moving song to date. Its beautiful guitar intro, piano motif, and the profoundly emotive vocal style are hard to match in the poppy spectrum of hard rock. Though they may have had bigger hits on the charts, "Bed of Roses" is the band at their most expressive, and Jon Bon Jovi at his songwriting best.

More guitar-based songs also appear on the CD, such as the bass-rich "If I Was Your Mother" with a cool chorus; the blues-inflected "Blame It on the Love of Rock & Roll" with its relentless rhythm groove; and the unapologetically loud "Woman in Love", driven by Jon Bon Jovi's repeated chorus shout.

In many ways, Keep the Faith is the band's finest moment. Unlike their albums released in the 80's, it has a more timeless quality to it and crosses the boundaries of happy-go-lucky pop rock tunes that formed much of that era. Sadly, with the follow-up to this record, These Days, Bon Jovi would lose their appeal to many a long-time fan whilst winning over a whole new legion of followers. They have always been a band that managed to keep up-to-date with what achieves stardom.

Track Listing

  1. I Believe
  2. Keep the Faith
  3. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
  4. In These Arms
  5. Bed of Roses
  6. If I Was Your Mother
  7. Dry County
  8. Woman in Love
  9. Fear
  10. I Want You
  11. Blame It on the Love of Rock & roll
  12. Little Bit of Soul

Added: June 3rd 2007
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Bon Jovi website
Hits: 3044
Language: english

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