While I’ve been a devout country music fan for about 14 years or so (half of my life), I grew up with an older sister who loved everything about 1980’s hair bands. One of her favorite bands was (and still is) Bon Jovi. Through the years I liked what I heard and eventually picked up a couple of their records. in 2005 Bon Jovi releaed their previous CD “Have A Nice Day” and the presence of Nashville based co-writers was evident throughout the record. When the duet “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” (with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland) was released and reached the top of the country charts, the future path for Bon Jovi was laid out. The transition to country was simple for the veteran rockers because of the fact that most of those girls (and guys) who grew up with Bon Jovi now were listening to the more accessible country radio stations and artists anyway. Also, the sounds heard from the majority of country artists had a lot more in common with 80’s pop/rock than traditional country. With that being said, how would the album be marketed to those who still profess to hate anything country unless it’s the star of the moment (say Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Shania Twain, etc.).The title track of Bon Jovi’s cross-over effort, “Lost Highway” leads the disc off and aside from the addition of fiddle, mandolin and a highlight on acoustic lead instruments (not unlike Keith Urban), the song is formulatic Bon Jovi. Still, formulatic Bon Jovi is better than quite a few of the tracks being chruned out by Nashville these days. All the traditional arena rock accents from the quartet of Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Tico Torres and David Bryan are present while the lyric about living life on the open road certainly hits home. Fans who’ve never liked Bon Jovi before but dig KU or Jason Aldean should enjoy this one. “Summertime” may be the umteenth song with that title but the jovial tune certainly keeps the pace of the record going on. It’s a simple, good-to-have-you-by-my-side-this-summer lyric that keeps the plesant song moving along. “(You Want To) Make A Memory” is next and was the first single. While it barely reached the Top 40 at country, the song has settled in nicely on the Adult Contemporary charts to give Bon Jovi another hit. Produced by Dann Huff (Producer for artists like Rascal Flatts among others), I can’t help but get the feeling of “here’s a romantic ballad, hope you like it” from the track. It’s a nice enough (if a bit formulatic) ballad I suppose, but releasing the title track to radio would’ve made more sense.
“Whole Lot Of Leavin'” is a tried-and-true Bon Jovi rocker while current country hipsters Big & Rich guest (and co-write) “We Got It Goin’ On.” From the talk box to the power chords from Sambora this is a pure “I Love The 80’s” moment. What does it say for me that I like this song as much I do? I guess I just like some disposable rock every now and then. Canada’s Gordie Sampson lends his pen to the the mid-tempo ballad “Any Other Day.” It’s as good as anything the band has done in the past few years. It has the sound of a country hit along with other adult radio formats. Hillary Lindsey helps Jon and Richie on what just may be the most ‘country’ track on the record. And because of that “Seat Next To You” should be given a shot at country radio for the fall/winter months (the time when ballads usually get released). It’s a well-written song with good production values and instrumentals. Add in a strong vocal from Jon Bon Jovi (and harmonies from Hillary herself) and you’ve got a winner here. The band delivers the ‘stereotypical’ bar/drinkin’ song with “Everybody’s Broken.” It features a nice, uplifing lyric that says it’s ok to feel defeated in life because everyone’s been ‘broken’ sometime in their life. This is the kind of song country radio’s listeners usually go for and that alone could make the solid track a hit. LeAnn Rimes joins the band on the duet “‘Til We Ain’t Strangers Anymore.” If the song appears on her own album release slated for late in 2007, radio may very will get this one at some point in the future, otherwise the song is a nice little album cut. “The Last Night” is a middle of the road ballad while the mandolin laced “One Step Closer” glides by the ears without much interference. “I Love This Town” has a Texas country/red dirt feel to it that lends a likability factor to the song (no small feat for a band from New Jersey). When it’s all said and done, Bon Jovi has delivered what their fans have come to expect. “Lost Highway” is packed full of songs for ‘the common folk’ much in the way that country music does. So while the album is far from a all-out country album (even by modern Nashville standards), “Lost Highway” is still very likable and one that any fan of Bon Jovi or modern country music can enjoy.