Release Date: Nov 4, 2016
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Album Rock, Arena Rock
"I ain't livin' with the ghost/No future living in the past," sings Jon Bon Jovi on "Living with the Ghost," the second song on This House Is Not for Sale, the first new Bon Jovi album without guitarist Richie Sambora. From those words, it's clear that Jon Bon Jovi isn't shedding many tears for his departed collaborator, and This House Is Not for Sale proves this to be true. While there are certainly moments of sweetness here -- he pens love songs to his woman ("Labor of Love") and guitar ("Scars on This Guitar") -- they're somewhat overwhelmed by the aggressive arena rock that dominates the album.
Bon Jovi’s first album since guitarist Richie Sambora’s departure doesn’t tear up the old formula. There are still stadium-ready rock songs and chant-friendly choruses. Jon Bon Jovi’s familiar well-weathered vocals tell stories of living in dreams, walking through hard rains and occasional ending up “higher than a rocket”. However, walls of guitars have been replaced by a brasher, more keyboard-based pop sound, and not all the post-Sambora tunes land as they should.
They’re an enduring thing, Bon Jovi. A recent Internet meme saw the immortal chorus of their 1986 bubble-gum metal classic ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ coupled with images that would rhyme with its “Whoa, we’re halfway there” refrain, the best of which were Harambe on a chair, wizard at a fair and Weston-super-Mare. Even 30 years after their commercial peak – and in the phone-fondling hands of a tech-savvy, millennial generation to whom they don’t truly belong – Bon Jovi still permeate popular culture.
New Jersey cowboys: one man down, but still standing Richie Sambora has ridden off into the sunset and their live shows these days resemble a middle-aged hen party, but Bon Jovi are keeping their radio rock dreams alive with album number 13. Approaching a Bon Jovi album and expecting it not to be slathered in cheese is like asking Domino’s to lay off the mozzarella, so it should come as no surprise that This House Is Not For Sale is crammed with Bud Light anthems squarely aimed at soundtracking the leaving montages on reality TV contests. But surely that’s always been their charm – the unashamed appropriation of mainstream pop married to all-American everyman lyrics like Labor Of Love’s ‘If love is a fire, I’ll go down in those flames.