Being second banana in one of the world’s biggest rock bands must be a tough gig. In Richie Sambora’s case, all the fame, money and adoration surely can’t take the sting out of the fact that your pay cheques are being signed off by somebody measurably less talented
Still, at least Sambora is sporadically let off the leash to show what he can do away from the confines of the Bon Jovi ‘brotherhood’. The guitarist’s third solo album finds him flexing his musical and vocal muscles, in the process serving up something that sounds more convincing than anything he’s done in his day job for the last 15 years.
His new album Aftermath Of The Lowdown is far beefier than Bon Jovi. Every Road Leads Home To You is the sort of billowing, adult rock anthem that band forgot how to write years ago, while the buzzsaw guitar of Nowadays finds Sambora – in fine new Jersey shore-front voice – discovering 90s pop punk and, shockingly, making a decent fist of it.
It all comes on the heels of two rehab stints, and if the confessional air occasionally gets overbearing – viz the treacly one-two of You Can Only Get So High and World – it’s still possible to take solace in one key fact: at least it’s not a Jon Bon Jovi solo album.