Holy Hell, what a year 2020 is turning out to be, huh? Welp…let me just say this: BON JOVI have given us the album we need right now with their newest release 2020 (Oct 2, Island Records). This is without a doubt the most deep and socially conscious record this band has ever done. Sure, there have been songs dealing with heavy subject matter before, but that is pretty much the order of the day for all ten of these tracks. This House Is Not For Sale was a very emotional outpouring, and I still play it once a week ever since 2016. Mini-Amps loves it, too. This new one hits on a different emotional level, though, and I am here for it from beginning to end.
Any of you who know me also know that I have fangirled over these guys since 1986 and will continue to do so. Jon Bon Jovi is one of my favorite songwriters to ever walk this earth and I am so grateful for all the music he and the boys have given us since then. I have also publicly stated how much I love their post-2000’s output. Well, 2020 is no exception. As soon as “Limitless” gets us started you can feel it, this sense of urgency, and a real feeling of where we are as a people and society. But what this song does for me is to remind myself not to get bogged down in the everyday minutia, and just go for it. The rest will work itself out.
I can’t lie to you people. The very first time I watched the video and listened to “Do What You Can” I cried…a lot. And I can’t get through it now without tearing up, especially the version that features Jennifer Nettles from SUGARLAND. Don’t worry, that video will be at the bottom. She is phenomenal; she takes an already perfect song and elevates it up to the Heavens. A fitting tribute to everyone working during this pandemic, it makes my heart swell with pride because it shows just how great we can be as people when we come together for the common good. At my job we make sterilizer and hand sanitizer. We also provide masks, and it feels good to be thought of as essential workers. There is nothing else I’d rather be doing right now.
“American Reckoning” was written after the album was originally done, but Jon felt like he had to write it after the senseless, needless killings of George Floyd and several others. This one is largely about them, and to call it powerful would be the understatement of the century. Tears flowed down my face the other night when I first played it, and quite frankly it’s all I can do to hold it together when I listen at work. “Story of Love” talks about Jon’s family and parenthood. It’s got a very waltz-y quality and you might find yourself swaying back and forth. Just go with it and enjoy. The outgoing guitar solo is especially pretty, too.
I found “Let It Rain” to be rather inspirational lyrically, and the band is rockin’ pretty good as well. Meanwhile “Lower the Flag” deals with the school shootings that have been popping up with a very high frequency, and even goes so far as to have Jon list them towards the end of the song. What the fuck is wrong with this world when this shit is allowed to happen again and again?!? “Maybe we start to die on the day we’re born, but we deserve to live life in between…” Truer words were never said as far as I am concerned. “Blood In the Water” is a sobering tale about migrants and the struggles they face each and every day, and the chorus is one of the album’s best for sure.
A barroom boogie feel permeates “Brothers In Arms,” and closer “Unbroken” is both striking and haunting. I love this song so very much. I am a veteran who for six years served in the United States Army Reserve. I am proud to have served. I never saw combat, but many did. And this song is for them. PTSD and suicide run rampant through our fellow vets who come back from war forever changed. There needs to be more services to help them, goddammit. The way Jon sings this one with such conviction, you’d think he might have been over there in combat. But that’s just how good he is. He knows how to make an emotional delivery and drive the point home. He’s been doing it for decades now.
Listen, this has been a fucked up year on so many levels, right? But honestly, a new BON JOVI album is like a visit from an old friend. You bear hug him at the door, grab beers from the fridge, then spend the evening reminiscing, sometimes getting into heavier fare. That’s what this record does for me. It makes me wanna hug my friends super-tight while telling them, “We can do this. We will overcome this. I love you. I am here for you…now and forever.” COVID-19 may have put a monkey wrench in our collective gears for now, but we are gonna come back stronger than ever. And quite frankly a record like 2020 is ready, willing, and able to lead the charge. Get your copy ASAP.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Unbroken”, “Do What You Can”, “Lower the Flag”, “American Reckoning”, “Let It Rain”