Worcester Telegram LH review
|When a Jersey guy goes country ...
Bon Jovi “Lost Highway” (Island/Mercury Nashville)
First came salsa from New York City; now, country music from New Jersey. Stop the insanity!
Last year, Bon Jovi — singer Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora, bassist Hugh McDonald, keyboardist Daniel Bryan and drummer Tico Torres — scored a No. 1 country hit with “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”
That surprise smash (featuring Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland) paved the way for “Lost Highway,” an album that hopes to cash in and exploit the band’s newfound country clout. Featuring a dozen tracks (six by the band’s regular producer John Shanks and six by Nashville producer Dann Huff), “Lost Highway” is not a dramatic departure for the New Jersey rockers. If anything, it’s the kissing cousin of “Keep the Faith” with more of a country twang.
Responsible for producing more pop confections than a cotton candy vendor on the Fourth of July, Bon Jovi (now referring to singer Jon Bon Jovi) declares, “Farewell to mediocrity” on the title track, “Lost Highway.” And not only does he do the opposite, Bon Jovi embraces mediocrity.
“Lost Highway,” which has nothing to do with the Leon Payne-written/Hank Williams-sung classic of the same name, opens this middle-of-the-road, faux-country disc. Bon Jovi’s warm, raspy voice is appealing, but his insanely catchy but inane lyrics that aspire for Springsteenesque grandeur are throwaways at best. Furthermore, Bon Jovi surrounds himself with a pedal steel guitar and twangy fiddle arrangement lifted out of the John Mellencamp playbook. In the end, the song is likable enough pop drivel but it does put the car song back 30 years.
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