Summer 2020 had been shaping up nicely for Jon Bon Jovi, the lead singer of the eponymous superstar rock band. He'd spent a year working on a new album, called simply '2020', that he saw as a heartfelt snapshot of an America at odds with itself.

But the coronavirus pandemic stopped the intended release of the record in May and the supporting tour was cancelled. Worse, the New Jersey rocker's 18 year-old son contracted the virus with mild symptoms while two bandmates - keyboardist David Bryan and percussionist Everett Bradley - were more seriously affected by it.

"The virus was all around us," recalls Jon, who's now 58. "We were in the bullseye in New York and New Jersey and I lost several friends and neighbours to it. It really put things in perspective. With time on my hands, I set up an emergency food bank and did dishwashing shifts at a community restaurant. As things started to improve a little, I also started tweaking the new album a bit so it reflects to an extent the tragic events of this tumultuous year."

The resulting album is topical and thought-provoking without sounding preachy or overbearing. One of the additional tracks, 'American Reckoning' is a powerful acoustic number about the police killing of George Floyd in May. And 'Do What You Can', a country-pop rebel rouser with a catchy chorus, is another extra track that reflects the need to help in the community at a time of national crisis.

Bon Jovi rock devotees might be surprised by the sheer musical scope and range of '2020'. 'Story of Love' celebrates family values, the piano-led 'Let It Rain' calls for an end to polarised politics whilst the poignant 'Unbroken' spotlights the plight of military veterans suffering from PTSD.

"I really wanted '2020' to be a well-rounded record," Jon Bon Jovi explains. "It had to be more than just socially conscious and more than just a collection of new rock songs, too. Bon Jovi has matured from the band we were back in 1986. I'm an older guy with four kids and different priorities and I wanted to be true to that.

"Before we released the new album I wanted to check out people's likely reaction to it. So I played a bit of it to Bruce Springsteen. Bruce came over to my house. We're both from New Jersey and I knew he'd pull no punches. But he thought it was great.

"Then I contacted Paul McCartney who is often in New York and I played bits of the album to him. I summoned up my courage to sing one of the songs live to Paul. Doing that in front of a Beatle is still a huge deal to me as I have always been such a massive fan. There were just the two of us in the room. Anyway, he loved the album, so I was very happy."

Springsteen and McCartney won't be the only people who enjoy '2020'. It is an accomplished album and is sure to please many more people this year and in future.















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