Now I’ve had another two weeks listening time, plus the chance to hear most of the songs live at Richie’s gigantically awesome gig at the Empire in London. And I’ve got to tell you, this album isn’t only an incredibly good piece of music all the way through, it is also THE BOMB when played live.
For the fist couple of weeks it was just plain weird to listen to new Richie Sambora songs after spending the last 14 years listening to his older stuff. And I was basically listening to the old stuff permanently for the last 14 years… But by now, although I still feel that many of the songs from Stranger in this Town and Undiscovered Soul are somehow deeper lyrically, and also musically more varied and refined, I have to admit that Aftermath is probably the album with the most coherent identity overall. Where the old albums were dipping in and out of different styles – some of it quite Bon Jovi-ish, other parts very bluesy, and everything in between – Aftermath comes along in its very own, balanced style and just kind of flows perfectly all the way through.
I’m not saying that’s better or worse. I love Stranger and Soul for the emotional journey they take you through, from the epic blues-rock ballads to the uptempo, sing-and-jump-around rock songs, to the stripped-back, thoughtful and melancholic acoustic songs, and the beautiful poetry of Sambora’s lyrics from that era. But they’re not necessarily albums I listen to from start to finish a lot, because the mood can jump a lot along the way.
Aftermath seems more mature and polished in that respect – despite the changes in tempo and instrumentation, it has a very coherent mood throughout. Maybe it’s because the album was born out a particular phase in Sambora’s life. There’s ups and downs, cheerful and serious songs, but every piece of it seems to be anchored in reflections on that phase, in the person that emerged from this ‘lowdown’ (as he calls it).
And that, above everything, is what I love this album for. I may be completely over-interpreting it, of course, but then music is always what you make of it. And to me, Aftermath of the Lowdown says that my favourite singer/songwriter/musician, my musical hero if you like, has made it through his lowdown and is doing all right.
And after all these years, he’s still making some damn fine music – and he sure knows how to drive a crowd crazy.
Images via Zimbio.