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Music Review: Bon Jovi takes a victory lap, assessing a 40-year career on new album ‘Forever’

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WAYNE PARRY

Forty years after they ran away with our hearts and into rock history, Bon Jovi is back with a reflective new album taking stock of all the boys from New Jersey have accomplished.

Perhaps the biggest news is that there’s a new Bon Jovi album at all. After years of experiencing vocal issues, singer Jon Bon Jovi underwent surgery on his vocal cords in 2022 and wasn’t at all sure of what the results would be.

They turned out fine. His voice has a slight affectation to it, mostly on protracted vowel sounds, but the charisma and the mischievousness is still there, as are a few successfully hit high notes that are an encouraging sign.

“Living Proof” is the best Bon Jovi song in nearly 20 years. It brings back the talk box device that was such an integral part of “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “It’s My Life,” and the song has the kind of catchy chorus that burrows deeply into your brain after hearing it just once.

Opener “Legendary” is one of many songs here that look back contentedly and approvingly at the band’s career (“Right where I am is where I wanna be,” Bon Jovi sings.) It’s followed by “We Made It Look Easy,” with similar sentiments.

Bon Jovi struck crossover country gold on 2007’s “Lost Highway,” and they score again here with the country-tinged “Waves.”

At least one song on this album will truly be played forever at wedding receptions: “Kiss The Bride,” Jon’s ode to his soon-to-be married daughter, who he first introduced to us as a 5-year-old in 2000’s “I Got the Girl.” Fathers of daughters: I dare you to listen to this song and not cry.

The album comes amid much speculation over whether original guitarist Richie Sambora will ever return to the fold. The solos here by current guitarist Phil X are unexceptional, and certainly don’t make a case against an eventual Sambora reunion.

“Forever” is a well-deserved victory lap.

AP

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