BON JOVI: LOST HIGHWAY (2007)
1) Lost Highway; 2) Summertime; 3) (You Want To) Make A Memory; 4) Whole Lot Of Leaving; 5) We Got It Going On; 6) Any Other Day; 7) Seat Next To You; 8) Everybody's Broken; 9) The Last Night; 10) Til We Ain't Strangers Anymore; 11) One Step Closer; 12) I Love This Town.
And with this dusty cliché, Bon Jovi become Taylor Swift. Twelve tracks of non-stop, completely interchangeable, instantly forgettable, absolutely similar-sounding guitar drivel — just the kind of music that gives «country pop» such a bad name among people who try to make life more colorful these days. Up to now, Bon Jovi had been almost everything, from dreadfully tasteless to surprisingly effective when they had their hooks properly aligned to utterly dull when they just wanted to tell you how much better they were than everybody else, but never before had they been so thoroughly embarrassing.
Then again, it was a long time coming: with «affairs of the heart» occupying a central place in the Bon Jovi rulebook ever since Keep The Faith transformed them from hair-clad cock-rockers into leather-clad spiritual heralds, the «Bon Jovi country album» was imminent, sooner or later, because where else can your spirit really find a safe place to rest other than Mother Earth and those musical styles that grow right out of it? This album should be played loud and proud — in a corn field, preferably. With some rocks and rapids close by, so you and your loved one can wash that road dust off your sexy bodies whenever you feel the need, as that trusty Bon Jovi soundtrack serenades you with sounds that sound so natural, so organic, you'd swear the creeks and the meadows themselves wrote them just for you and your mate.
And I do stress «you and your mate», because the majority of these songs are romantic — ballads or pop-rockers, they are all about the protagonist's relations with that special someone, coming or going or staying or leaving. No mentions of life on welfare or social unjustice, this one's strictly for all you lovebirds out there. The exception being the tracks that bookmark the album — ʽLost Highwayʼ and ʽI Love This Townʼ are both about the will to live on this planet despite all the setbacks and troubles, so if you feel like killing yourself, Lost Highway will try to dissuade you from the task. (If you also feel like an intelligent human being — it will probably fail, though). They are also the only two genuinely catchy tunes on the album, even if the «happy» fiddle-and-banjo arrangement of the title track makes me sick, and the gang-friendly atmosphere of ʽI Love This Townʼ feels extremely contrived.
Oh, wait, there's one more exception — somewhere in the middle of this wheatfield wasteland comes ʽWe Got It Going Onʼ, a talkbox-adorned throwback to the good old dumb days of the 1980s if there ever was one, a song that feels so utterly dumb and so completely out of place that it had no choice but to become a highlight of the show for me, clearly reminding why New Jersey, on which this song would totally fit in, was really the pinnacle of this band's career. Okay, so it's good to know that the old boys can still dress up in gorilla furs when they feel like it. This band was born to party, not to cruise lost highways.
Everything else hardly seems deserving of wasting extra bytes of precious cyberspace, so I will be brief: pick out a random Taylor Swift song, replace the gorgeously packaged young blond female beauty with a gorgeously packaged not-so-young blond male hunk, and voilà, your lost highway lies right before you. And it merits a thumbs down — I mean, highways don't just get lost without a good reason, and I think this particular one got lost sooner than it was put into actual operation.