|Bon Jovi Lost Highway||Island/Def Jam|
Whether you like it or not – this is the stuff of genius. What other band of the 80s continues to reinvent itself – often flying in the face of fan wishes – takes risks and still manages to sell 250k units in it's first week of sales?|
These days everything in the world of Bon Jovi is calculated to the last note. It is this perceived loss of spontaneity that gives their critics the ammunition to lob at them, but credit where credit is due. They survive, they are still out there performing and they are still selling out venues and releasing charting records.
Bon Jovi only just won back a number of fans with the popular and critically acclaimed Have A Nice Day album. Their decision to write and record a new album in Nashville upset many, but what would the result be?
Not as bad as some have made out, but also not everything it could have been nor should have been in the wake of Have A Nice Day.
Whereas Have A Nice Day was a very popular release, I think this one is a definite hot and cold release. You are either going to love it or hate it. And I'm guessing there will be as many in one camp as there will be in the other.
Going back to the issue of how calculated this band is – the track Who Said You Can't Go Home was originally a duet with Keith Urban. Jon Bon Jovi thought he knew better and switched to a female lead from an up and coming Nashville act. He was right and the guys scored a Grammy for the track and opened the door for a potential new audience.
That sniff of a new market was enough for JBJ to pack his bags, fill his car with gas, and pick Richie up on the way to Nashville.
The plan was that the new record would be written in Nashville with an eye for that market, while carrying enough of the classic Bon Jovi sound along for the ride, hoping to still hold the interest of regular fans.
Another calculated and cleaver move was to bring producer of Have A Nice Day John Shanks along and team him with the man on the moment in Nashville – Keith Urban's right hand man Dann Huff (no stranger to this website in his own right).
Lost Highway really is an example of a perfectly executed plan coming together. You get the more modern influences of the last album combining with the country rock style of Keith Urban.
The Nashville influence is entwined into every note of this new record, but in another twist of genius, the album can be as much or as little country as you want it to be.
If you choose to block out this influence, Lost Highway can simply be seen as a more acoustic driven record such as These Days and will appeal to fans of that release. There's also a little Crush in the mix and basically it is just another example of modern day Jovi.
If you want to concentrate on the slide guitar, the string arrangements or the noticeable twang in Jon's voice, then this record can offer something new and fresh for fans.
At the same time, if you can't block out those influences, then this record will simply annoy the shit out of you.
It's unusual to hear the southern twang of banjo's and strings opening a Bon Jovi album, but the happy go lucky buzz of the title track is hard to ignore.
Borrowing from the modern rock styling of Have A Nice Day is the rockers Summertime, Everybody's Broken and the more sentimental themed Any Other Day, which is the pick of the whole album for me.
Trying just a little too hard in the 'down home hokey rocker' category is We Got It Going On, a paring with Nashville's hip duo Big & Rich.
The remainder of the album is unfortunately filled with acoustic driven fluff pieces, which I guess puts me right in the fence as far as the album goes.
There are some sweet songs, but they all have this overtly sweet and nice feel that just doesn't match my desire for Bon Jovi music – they are already the kings of schmaltzy ballads.
These Days for the new millennium or Have A Nice Day for the country set. Take it either way, but you can't argue that the album sounds a million bucks and has once again found this 'never say die' band in the chart topping zone.
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