If you haven’t read my album review for Bon Jovi’s New Jersey (1988), feel free to check that out here! For now, we are moving onto the next album on the agenda, Keep the Faith (1992). I tried searching for Keep the Faith on Amazon, but I couldn’t find it for a good price. So when I found it at Hungry Ear Records for about $12, I was sold! I bought it on March 19, 2021.
After the completion of the New Jersey tour, which ran from 1988 to 1990, Bon Jovi went on hiatus. During this time, Jon Bon Jovi wrote the soundtrack for Young Guns II (1990) and Richie Sambora released his debut solo album, Stranger in This Town (1991). After the band members resolved their differences, they returned to the studio to record their fifth studio album. Keep the Faith is the band’s last studio album with bassist Alec John Such, due to his departure from the band in 1994. With the hair metal genre kicked to the curb by grunge, Bon Jovi decided that it was time for a change in their sound, musically and lyrically. Now, with all that said, let’s get on with the music!
The album starts with “I Believe” and I hate it! The melody is too happy, if that makes sense. The chorus doesn’t gravitate towards me and the song’s message of hope is lame. Look at these lyrics: “Don’t look up on your movie screens / In record stores or magazines / Close your eyes and you will see / That you are all you really need.” “I Believe” is over five and a half minutes because of the instrumental sections and Jon singing, “yeah” way too many times.
I should hate the title track because it is overplayed, but I don’t because “Keep the Faith” is a great song and I think it’s bada** that Jon swears in it (“Everybody’ b*tching cause they can’t get enough”). The message is positive and is about hope, so I’m contradicting what I said for “I Believe,” but the tone of the song is dark; that’s why I hate when bands change their songs’ key when performed live, because the songs lose their edge. But band members get older and the singer’s voice changes, so I understand that lowering the key is necessary. “Keep the Faith” is a well put-together track with the opening bass riff, maracas, drums, keyboard, and guitar.
Unlike “I Believe,” “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” went by fast and it left me wanting more! The hand-clapping in the intro was a brilliant idea. The chorus is catchy as heck and it’s a fun, party rock song; David Bryan’s keyboard really adds to the party effect and makes you want to dance. I love the fun and playful lyrics in this song: “Seven days of Saturday is all I need / I got no use for Sunday cause I don’t rest in peace / I was born to live / You know I wasn’t born to die / But if they party down in heaven / I’ll be sure to be on time.” I used to get “Born to Be My Baby” and “In These Arms” mixed up because they both have a similar concept; I personally like “In These Arms” better because the lyrics are more developed. Richie Sambora also does a brilliant guitar solo in this song.
“Bed of Roses” was in My Favorite Songs – Summer 2020 post for a reason because it’s so good! It’s another well put-together song with the flavorful guitar playing on the Fender Stratocaster, the moody keyboard, and emotive drumming. It’s so funny to think that Jon wrote the lyrics while suffering from a hangover in his hotel room; I guess song inspiration can come from anywhere! “If I Was Your Mother,” in my opinion, is one of the band’s heaviest songs they’ve ever done, and I love it. The concept is a bit weird because Jon is questioning whether his lover would give him the same affection if he was her mother, or maybe I’m overthinking this. Tico Torres and Sambora are on fire with the pounding drums and screeching guitar, respectively.
“Dry County” is the longest and most complex Bon Jovi song in the band’s catalog. The lyrics deal with the decline of the US oil industry and its effect on the people that relied on it for income. The band is on fire in this track, especially Sambora, who does another great guitar solo. It starts off with the piano, then the drums kick in during the chorus, it builds up to the crazy, fast section, and then slows down for the grand finale. “Woman in Love” is upbeat and it’s a fun dance song, but the chorus isn’t strong enough. Also, I’m not sure what was up with the dog references, but I found it funny: “If lust is just a dirty dog / I’ve been scratching with the fleas / I’ve been waking up your neighbors / Barking up your tree.”
Now, I’m starting to regret my statement about “Woman in Love” having a weak chorus because “Fear” has a really weak chorus; it repeats the title over and over again. The vibe I got from this song was, “Hey, let’s be bada** and escape our living hell. There’s only fear stopping us.” Instrumentally, it’s a cool song, but I’m not crazy about the lyrics. “I Want You” gives me “Always” vibes, musically and lyrically, because the song describes someone’s desire for their lover, despite the relationship being over, and the melody sounds similar, too. I do like the chorus for “I Want You” more because of the poetic lyrics.
“Blame It on the Love of Rock & Roll” has a fun concept; it’s about a dude that loves rock ‘n’ roll, even though the people around him think he’s nuts. However, I don’t like the higher key change in the chorus because I thought the original key in the verses was fine. Also, I feel like the transitions into chorus (for both verses) were forced; part of it had to do with the key change. Jon could’ve squeezed in more lyrics too, but I still enjoyed the song overall.
“Little Bit of Soul” is one of those songs that sounds like the boys came up with it while messing around in the studio, in a good way. The band performed it on Keep the Faith: An Evening with Bon Jovi (1993), and I was blown away! It sounded like everyone was having a good time. Sambora added some flavorful guitar playing and perfectly blended harmonies with Jon; he was the soul of Bon Jovi, so it makes sense. What a fantastic way to close off the album!
I know I talk a lot about how awesome Sambora is, but honestly, Bon Jovi is a team effort. Torres’ drums, Bryan’s keyboard, and Such’s bass all had their time to shine. Bon Jovi is way more than Jon Bon Jovi, trust me. “Dry Country” would be so different without Bryan’s keyboard, come on! This is my favorite Bon Jovi album for many reasons; it shows a mature side to the band and a lot of the songs are fun, dance songs (in the style of rock ‘n’ roll, of course). However, not all of the songs were perfect and I hated the album opener, so I’d give Keep the Faith 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Comment below your favorite song from Bon Jovi’s Keep the Faith album!
Take care and see ya real soon!