With their attempt to make an album ”influenced by Nashville,” Bon Jovi have mostly just succeeded in making a slightly above-average Bon Jovi disc — albeit one with a lot more songs about driving. But a couple of shout-outs to hitting the road (among them ”Lost Highway” and ”Summertime”) do not a country-tinged album make. And despite the former hair-metal band’s insistence on this as a storytelling exercise, none of the clichéd generalities (”I’m one step closer/With my arms open wide”) comes even close to the complexity of, say, Tommy and Gina’s plight in ”Livin’ on a Prayer.” Frankly, the alleged genre shift on Lost Highway, the band’s 10th release, seems like a well-intentioned ploy to find a few more airplay options in these challenging musical times.
So they’re not cowboys. But the adult-contemporary horse they’re riding does have its charm, like the fist-pumping chorus of the title track or the joyous slide of Richie Sambora’s guitar on ”Whole Lot of Leavin’ Goin’ On.” ”’Til We’re Not Strangers Anymore” is a sweet, old-timey duet with LeAnn Rimes, and there’s a genuine party happening in ”I Love This Town,” which wanders over to the Buffett/Chesney county line without leaving Jersey. Still, as always, the album’s strongest selling point is Jon Bon Jovi’s familiar rasp, a voice as comfortable as a broken-in barstool or a beloved pair of boots. And look on the bright side: Those things are very, very country…esque. B- DOWNLOAD THIS: Whole Lot of Leavin' Goin' On