Sound — 9
Bon Jovi's sound on this album is typically as tight and together as what you would expect on a studio album from such a superb experienced act. Very layered with differnt guitars, both acoustic and clean electric, light brown distortion and full on heavy screeching lead. Doesn't have some of the fun jamming songs on it that I consider tracks like Little Bit of Soul and Love For Sale to be from the last two studio albums but it doesn't lack without them. There is a ballad in the form of This Ain't A Love Song, but hey it is aptly named, and is strangely powerful. Richie is sublime on this album, he is the most underrated guitarist that far surpasses what he gets credit for. Whilst he can technically shred it is not his style, listen to Damned if you want to hear him solo fast with a wah pedal. But also appreciate the other aspect of his playing on the song, the funky intro riff, the odd notes that are bent during the verses, all contributing to the collage of sounds that Sambora uses. The thing that seperates Sambora from the others is his ability to play with emotion, try listening to the whole of My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms loudly and not feel the emotion in his playing during the outro solo, and the way he breaks it down again. Being Bon Jovi there is a good use of keyboards, maybe less on this album other than the title track These Days and the high standard of drumming.
Lyrics — 9
Vocals are very Jon strong, and with good reason he is superb on this album, not as crazy as the older stuff and not as soft as the newer stuff. Actually quite a heartfelt feel to them, not at all cheesy as people typically consider Bon Jovi. The choice of the lyrics is quite criticising of the world/life, not in a depressive way, nor in a psychotic death metal way, just in an angry get it out of your system way. Songs like Hey God, My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms and Something to Believe In, the choice of words and the powerful way they are sung hit a chord with me. Whilst I love the older stuff I listen to it as slightly cheesy rock, and whilst I enjoy Crush, I listen to it as pop rock, These Days however, I can really get into lyrically and associate with more.
Overall Impression — 9
The most impressive songs on the album are Hey God, This Ain't A Love Song, These Days, Damned, My Guitar Lies Bleeding In My Arms and Something To Believe In. Out of them all My Guitar Lies Bleeding is a masterpiece, starting of dark and moody, gently building up through the first two verse/choruses until it breaks into a heavy catchy interlude as Richie picks upto the solo. Only to die down again for the final verse before it all comes back in for the last chorus, heavy, with lead licks backing it that turn into a searing lead outro solo. Most albums I own I select certain songs to listen to, with this one I listen to the whole thing no trouble. I would replace it if it were broken, this is my second copy anyway. Backed up this time.