September 29, 2020 Bon Jovi – 2020 (Album Review)
The year 2020 has been one no one will soon forget. Marred by a worldwide pandemic, social unrest, and a complete disconnect of communication among people, it seems as if many of us are at our breaking point. Fortunately there is music to get us through, and in most cases, it is one of the only things that unites us in the most divided times. A champion of human rights, social justice, and all around good guy, Jon Bon Jovi has used music as a vehicle to spread a message of hope and positivity throughout the years. Whether it be as a solo artist, or with his larger than life Rock band Bon Jovi, there has been plenty of good humanity to go around.
Which leads us to 2020, the year, and the new album from Bon Jovi set for release on Friday, October 2, 2020 via Island Records. Initially set for release back in May, the simple 2020 title was originally picked to acknowledge the challenging and extremely pivotal election year in the USA. However, much more has transpired than one could have ever imagined, and the election almost feels like a footnote to history in the making. A storm of tragedy that seems to keep striking down on land harder with each blow, Bon Jovi find a way to harness it all into songs with a message.
Their fifteenth overall studio album, for old school Bon Jovi fans, it has been some time since the band has recorded Hard Rock music. In fact, many would argue you would need to go back to 2009’s The Circle to find it. That in mind, if you are looking for a return to their roots of harder Rock-n-Roll, 2020 is not it, but if you are progressive in your outlook there is still plenty being offered here. If you look at the timeline of the band, it is no secret they shifted gears in style long ago, so why hold onto the past? Nevertheless, 2020 features 10 new tracks, 2 of which were added to the original list after the pandemic hit, and there are plenty of heartfelt stories in between the lines.
In truth, as a songwriter, Jon Bon Jovi has taken on an almost Bruce Springsteen feel over the last two decades; combining Rock, Country, and Folk sensibilities into the songs. Each has a tale to tell: some are uplifting, others are tragic, but every one of them is vividly human. You have more upbeat Pop Rock moments as heard in “Limitless,” but also more somber vibes as heard on “Do What You Can” and “American Reckoning” – two new tracks that were written and recorded in recent months.
Then there is the catchy “Beautiful Drug,” along with “Let It Rain,” the touching “Story Of Love,” and stunning “Lower The Flag” which outlines all the senseless gun violence in America. Finally, the album closes with a mix of emotions heard on the mellow “Blood in the Water,” bluesy “Broken In Arms,” and powerful, patriotic single “Unbroken.”
In all, 2020 is a storytelling album with peaks, valleys, and plenty of heartache. In every aspect, the album emulates real life as we are living it right now. Songs of peace, hope, and longing for resolution, Cryptic Rock gives this slice of Americana 4 out of 5 stars.