Laura Sinagra
November 07, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

On ”This Left Feels Right,” nice-guy pop-metal survivors Bon Jovi reinvent their youthful mall epics as acoustic adult reflections. Except for the druid-dancing ”Wanted Dead or Alive” and the raspy, honky-tonk ”Bad Name,” their arena-shouters — always more Springsteen than Whitesnake — reveal surprising pathos. As a ballad, ”Livin’ on a Prayer” becomes a vow renewal, and ”Born to Be My Baby” is darkened by an ominous twang. The band’s quest for meaning mostly pays off, though in this context, their occasional mentions of God take on an oddly evangelical tinge.

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