Given the chart success of their Grammy-winning country single "Who Says You Can't Go Home," it's no surprise Bon Jovi upped the ante by recording an entire album paying homage to Nashville. In some ways, it's amazing they didn't do this sooner, given the way Keith Urban in particular is blurring country-pop lines, much as Garth Brooks and others did in the 1990s. To their credit, you won't find predictably shallow invocations of past country icons or any self-conscious, in-your-face down-home twang added strictly to remind the listener of the musical premise. In fact, Lost Highway
isn't "Bon Jovi goes country" so much as a meaningful tribute to the Nashville ethos done on their own terms. They honor the spirit of the town through 12 simple, direct originals. The intimate, smoldering "(You Want to) Make a Memory," the ballad "Seat Next to You,", "Lost Highway" and its roaring celebration of freedom, and "Stranger," an effective duet with LeAnn Rimes, all invoke country's spirit, and "I Love This Town," an eloquent nod to Nashville itself, ties it together admirably. --Rich Kienzle
The scarily large hair and outrageously tight trousers may have fallen by the wayside, but Bon Jovi are back with their tenth studio album, and it's a surprisingly country-influenced record.
Lost Highway hasn't lost any of the huge sing-along choruses that has made Bon Jovi one of the largest stadium rocking bands in the world, but to their credit, they are trying something a bit different at the same time as giving their fans what they want. They have always flirted a bit with country/cowboy symbols in the past (''Wanted Dead Or Alive'', anybody?) but this time have got down and done the dirty on an album described as 'a Bon Jovi record influenced by Nashville'.
There are tracks here that are disappointingly pedestrian, such as Summertime, which you just want to end as soon as it starts, but then comes ''We Got It Going On'', a song stuffed full of classic Richie Sambora talkbox action, extended guitar solos, gravely vocals, name checks for Jon, and Richie, and the immortal line 'we'll be bangin' and sangin' just like the Rolling Stones'.
''(You Want To) Make A Memory'' and ''Seat Next To You'' are definite lighter in the air moments, but ''Everybody's Broken'' is a real stadium classic with lyrics like 'when you wonder why you're breathing/know you're not alone/it's so hard to believe/when it's easier to doubt'. You can almost hear Dolly Parton singing, sorry sangin', the words.
If you're a fan of Bon Jovi then there is nothing here that you won't like. For others, it certainly won't blow you away, but it won't make your ears bleed either. However, if you're after the likes of the classic 80s Slippery When Wet album, you won't find it here. Think big guitars tempered with country stylings, lyrics of emotional turmoil and ordinary people striving for something better, and you'll be about there. --Helen Groom
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