``What About Now‘’
(Island Def Jam)
Why does Bon Jovi crank out an unending string of relentlessly upbeat, unavoidably catchy songs in the style that made the Jersey boys famous 30 years ago and kept them there `till now?
Because they can.
The band‘s 12th album, ``What About Now,’‘ fairly bursts with the encouraging self-help anthems that have long defined the Bon Jovi sound and style, from the early days of Tommy and Gina ``Livin’ on a Prayer‘’ to keeping the faith and realizing ``It‘s My Life.’‘
One listen to ``Because We Can’‘ and its chorus will be burned into your brain forever. It’s one of many Bon Jovi odes to faithfulness, trust, perseverance and a belief that no matter how bad things get, it‘ll be OK as long as we hold on tight to each other and don’t lose hope.
But the most interesting is ``Room at the End of the World,‘’ where Bon Jovi sings of heaven as a calm, unhurried place where dead roses bloom again, where truth has its turn, where young love never dies, where there‘s no sin and ``where we never said goodbye.’‘
David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’
``The Next Day‘’
Many people wondered if there would be a next day for David Bowie, professionally speaking.
Bowie retreated after suffering a heart attack in 2004, leaving many of his fans to wonder if he had retired. He recorded secretly in New York the past couple of years, announced the imminent release of ``The Next Day‘’ on his 66th birthday in January, and has said nothing about its contents publicly.
The album cover and song ``Where Are We Now?‘’ harken back to Bowie‘s fruitful period in Berlin. The moody, atmospheric song has Bowie, in a voice rendered fragile by age, wandering the German streets again. Like ``Heroes,’‘ it ultimately soars and is life-affirming.
It also sounds like nothing else on the disc, not only in tempo but in the personal glimpse it offers. As a songwriter, Bowie is a reporter, and sings of medieval evil, the shamed offspring of a prison warden, a soldier wasted by his work, a gleaming young girl in a rotting world. And, unexpectedly, Bob Dylan, in the roaring rocker ``(You Will) Set the World on Fire.’‘
Brecker blossoms on King-Taylor tribute
This collection of James Taylor and Carole King songs marks Amanda Brecker’s U.S. recording debut, but the singer has a rich musical pedigree. She‘s the daughter of noted jazz trumpeter Randy Brecker and Brazilian singer-pianist Eliane Elias, and has performed with her mother since she was 8.
Her background gives her the confidence to perform classic songs like ``So Far Away,’‘ ``Something In the Way He Moves’‘ and ``Sweet Baby James’‘ in a relaxed, respectful manner _ with a few jazzy embellishments _ that caresses the lyrics without over-the-top vocal displays.
Producer Jesse Harris brought in several King-Taylor collaborators such as bassist Lee Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkel, whose tasteful accompaniment enhances but never overwhelms the vocals. Brecker gives her most impassioned performance on ``You’ve Got A Friend,‘’ tastefully backed only by jazz pianist Larry Goldings, a frequent Taylor partner.
The only original ``You Were Mine‘’ hints at Brecker‘s songwriting talent. While ``Blossom’‘ showcases her vocal talents, her next album hopefully will reveal more of her musical personality.