Album cover: What I like about this cover is the color scheme used. It has a very rustic look to it and does hold your gaze, while you scan over the faces of each band member. The studio building, tree and what seems to be a sunset in the background kind of signify the close of an era of music and the start of something new (But hey that is just my own interpretation of it!) Given the tone and vibe of the album, I feel that this cover is a great face for it.
Overall album: While I have always enjoyed the rich variety of songs spread across Bon Jovi’s entire discography, I am frequently drawn back to These Days. There is something poetic and raw mixed into its DNA. The spread of topics from questioning one’s faith in the divine to searching for something to elevate the pain of modern living to reflecting on personal relationships, shows a band willing to take bold steps in several new directions. Given the timing of the album’s release, during the rise of the grunge era, I feel it fitted in well with its contemporaries and has aged gracefully.
Hey God: First up, I want to say that I was shocked a bit when I first heard this back in the 90’s. While the music is very catchy and has a great riff playing across it, it is the lyrics that caught my attention. They are bold, highly critical and packed with a great deal of angst. Something you would not expect to hear from a band like Bon Jovi.
Something For The Pain: This is a classic tune by the band and features some really cool distorted guitar work by Richie Sambora. To add, the melody here is simply unforgettable. But more interesting is that while this sits with all of the previous classics there is a very strong progressive element layered in here.
This Ain’t A Love Song: Sweet in its delivery and polished down to a great final finish. This is the first of the ballads on the album that has some great vocal harmonies delivered by Jon Bon Jovi. There is a really nice casual feel to this track and it flow smoothly from start to finish.
These Days: Beautiful, bitter and soul searching is the way I would describe this track. It seems like you can get something new from this number each time you listen to it. Though let me say something controversial here that somehow I cannot help but feel this track would have had a deeper impact if Richie had sung lead on it instead. Now while Jon does an awesome job, I feel Richie’s raspier voice might have added something extra to it.
Lie To Me: A very gentle track that builds on a ton of harmonies. Dealing with a complicated relationship, it delves deep into how one could salvage something special. Jon lays down some of his best vocals and Richie backs him up really well. Some nice keyboard work by David Bryan to.
Damned: There is a slight funk element to this one, which is prominently displayed by Richie’s guitar work. Pretty cool overall.
My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms: A darker track compared to the others on the album. There is a sense of loss, boredom and despair mixed together that course through this entire piece. It evokes images of a heavy storm erupting over a serene scene and Richie throws some interesting solo work here.
(It’s Hard) Letting You Go: I just love the keyboard work that David spread across this one. The atmosphere he conjures up helps to create a pretty interesting mood. There’s a subtlety to the music and that is where I believe its true power really lies.
Heart’s Breaking Even: It really like how Tico Torres lays out his beats on this one. This track has a nice laid back feel to it. The well structured melodic chorus makes this one a real sing along.
Something To Believe In: Wow! So this track has a wide range of elements thrown in and a very peculiar melody to boot. The lyrics somehow remind me a bit of the opening track “Hey God.” The piano gives this track a great deal of potency. It beckons the listeners to come forward and be absorbed by its magic.
If That’s What It Takes: This track is quite simply a feel good rock number. While it is not a stand out track, it holds its own and continues the solid flow of the album. I cannot help but feel that there some type of a Beatles influence here. Not sure why though!
Diamond Ring: This song is real special. It feels like it could fit really well as a part of the soundtrack for a Hollywood wild west movie. The acoustic guitar work is worth checking out. A great way to close the album.
All I Want Is Everything: While this is the first of two bonus songs available on certain versions of the album it is worth checking out as well. Solid rock with a nice crunchy riff. This has the same type of story telling lyrics the band is known for. It plods along very nicely.
Bitter Wine: A classic Bon Jovi ballad. It has combines guitars, piano and vocals really well. It takes its time to move along and builds a pretty picture in the listeners mind. Jon makes his voice a bit husky and that works well out here.
Ultimate Album Song: Something For The Pain
The Band: Richie Sambora (Guitars/ Sitar/ Vocals), Jon Bon Jovi (Vocals/ Harmonica/ Percussion), Tico Torres (Drums/ Percussion), David Bryan (Keyboards/ Vocals)