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RECORDINGS Quick Spins
Bon Jovi is the latest in a recent line of acts -- Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock and Jewel among them -- to find modest success in Nashville after aging out of or growing bored with their mainstream careers.
Plainly inspired by the success of "Who Says You Can't Go Home," the band's 2005 collaboration with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, "Lost Highway" isn't so much a country album as a pop-rock album with country stars on it. Jon Bon Jovi and Co. leave the heavy lifting to guest artists such as Big & Rich and LeAnn Rimes, while personally contributing nothing twangier than the occasional pedal steel riff.
"Lost Highway" suffers from this excess of caution and from the band's unfortunate tendency to do whatever it was doing on its last record over again, only worse. With the exception of the lovely "Stranger," a duet with Rimes, the album appears to be entirely devoid of an original thought, lacking even the derivative-but-memorable arena pop tracks that until recently were the band's stock in trade.
Because country music fans tend to like their rock stars cheesy and their bombast dialed to 11, and because they may be less familiar with the band's ever-increasing fondness for chewed-over "Bobby Jean"-era Springsteenian cliches, they might not even notice. Rock fans, or anyone even remotely familiar with Bon Jovi's recent canon, will listen to phoned-in tracks such as "We Got It Going On" and wonder if they're even bothering to try anymore.
DOWNLOAD THESE: "Everybody's Broken," "Stranger"
-- Allison Stewart