Sound — 8
Respect to Bon Jovi. Not even two years since the release of his last studio outing, 2005's "Have A Nice Day", and the band make a return with "Lost Highway", their fourth record since the start of the millennium. With the creative blueprint laid down as well, opting to attempt something fresher, it really does make you questions why it is taking other 80's rock/metal peers such a long time to return with new material and not tour on past glories. (Anyone heard of a band called Metallica by the way?) In the much lesser-felt run in on the promotion to this record, very little has entered the media waves other than the fact the record takes a much more country inspired influence, this mainly due to the success of single "Who Say's You Can't Go Home" from H.A.N.D. Talk also of the fact this is the bands last long-player on their current deal may also lead some to wonder just how forced and pressured the final product may turn out to be. So for those overly sceptical as a result, erase all pre-conceptions. Whilst the country vibes are certainly amongst the mix and themes for this record and are clearly in evidence amongst the majority of the tracks, the band certainly have not made a full investment in this sound. The style obviously will have an effect and does shape the overall sound of the record, but the prominent type of anthem here lends its self more towards the soft-rock side as a pose to the rockier side "Have A Nice Day" was largely based around. The album starts off at it's most upbeat, and like this records predecessor, the title-track again probably boasts the albums biggest chorus, and Ritchie Sambora maintains his knack for once again finding a killer, uplifting riff progression and balancing it nicely within the easier-said-than-done song structuring. From here on in, it's that softer-rock style with the odd sprinkle of a country-esque moment. The order of the day either way though is simply relaxed and laid back tunes, the acoustic and piano being dusted off and the electric guitar taking a backseat. Whether it be the chilling and delicate, unplugged feel of particularly emotional first single "Make A Memory", to the dreamy, floating, almost Foo Fighter "Next Year" feel of "Everybody's Broken" or the really slide-driven, acoustic orientated moments like "Whole Lot of Leavin'" and "One Step Closer", the style lends itself a lot more towards Jon's vocal qualities, and opens your eyes at times on just how powerful a depth and range the guy has on him. With this said however, the rock side is not completely abandoned. The particularly "Crush"-era sounding "We Got It Going On" provides one of the albums top moments, and is surely single-bound. Packed with Bon Jovi trademarks - the vocal/guitar interchanging verse sections, simplistic go immensely catchy "woah-ohs", the cheesy in-band references, and most prominently, Ritchie's talk box in full voice and on superb form, the guitar solo in particular a real gem. Combined with the other, more traditional sounding rocker "Summertime", you're reminded of the common Bon Jovi ground you're used to, and this leads to the records only flaw - the lack of these moments. One could argue of course the band are trying to dodge the one-trick pony moments, and they have definitely succeeded and proven their depth with this release, however you feel maybe another couple of these moments may have actually given the record more balance and a much vaster variation in retrospect.
Lyrics — 9
The common themes covered within the record deal with progressing in your life and knowing your place, relishing particular moments and creating new ones and the familiar and warm feeling of your surroundings. Lyrically it is not far from the matter referered to on "Have A Nice Day", with every set being upbeat and positive, reflective and relating to you on more that one basis. Like with the last record it is refreshing to hear.
Overall Impression — 8
With one of the most large and loyal fanbases in the world, I'll be amazed if many are detered by this record. Yes, it is a softer sounding record, but the Bon Jovi trademarks never completely fade. Another rock moment here or there may have just given it that touch of balance and added appeal to keep all fans completeley satisified, but otherwise this is still pure Bon Jovi, fashionable or not fashionable, nobody does anthemic rock like it.