It’s not that Lost Highway is an entirely uninteresting effort; it has the Bon Jovi charm, swagger and romantic abandon present in the guys' big-haired, bright-eyed days of the 1980s, only slightly updated. The issue is that it’s so geared toward their avid fan base that it passes most of us onlookers by, leaving us stranded on this now infamous lost highway.
Once you tear off the wrapping on the CD and open it up, there is a picture of the gracefully aging rockers sitting at a diner, sharing coffee together, as well as a laugh. This image can only indicate that these gents are poised for some mellowing out. And since they recorded a track with none other than country star LeAnn Rimes (“Till We Aint Strangers Anymore”), it’s safe to say that mellowed out they have.
The title track is also the opening one, and it brings back the cheese that only the most ardent Bon Jovi fans could gobble up. This song is like receiving a big plate of overly greasy nachos at Taco Bell and thinking to yourself, "hey, this is too greasy for me, I should send it back." But then you look around the joint and see everyone else devouring the dish, and you realize that’s just how some people like it--and you don’t even know why you walked in there in the first place.
Bon Jovi is better than Taco Bell, pardon the analogy, however this is a record for those who were with the group from long before the M1Abrams tank was even a gleam in Michael Dukakis’ eye. Following suit, these loyal old-timers may appreciate “Summertime,” though it feels about 15 years too late, with its early ‘90s feel of optimistic foolishness.
That’s not to say it’s all inaccessible. “Everybody’s Broken” and “Seat Next To You” prove solid and lyrically genuine ballads. The same can’t be said of the album’s first single, “(You Want To) Make A Memory,” which wants so badly to be a hit but just isn’t quite catchy enough.
“We Got It Going On” brings back the old Peter Frampton talk box last used for “It’s My Life.” It’s a come on and love each other power anthem; however, it doesn’t have the stamina it so needs to avoid being the skip-over track it is. “Any Other Day” succeeds where the prior one fails with Richie Sambora’s structured and steadily riffs, complemented by a rousing chorus done in a way only Bon Jovi can do.
Frontman Jon is one of the better singers to come out of the Glam Rock era which, not discounting his unwavering good looks and ability to cross into varying media platforms, is why he and his band are still here. So regardless of what critics might say about Lost Highway, it can't be said those five guys from Jersey ever took the road less traveled.