**** (4 stars out of 5)
First of all, love the cover. While I would love to see Jon's nekkid bod on there, the smirk is perfect for both the Jersey attitude and the title song's feeling. I also love the fact that the lyrics are included in the liner notes - a rarity these days. In 2 months when I am at the concert, I will need to be singing along to every single word of every single song, so its great to have lyrics included. And the pics they included inside are pretty great (drool).
So onto the music. I miss the days when I would get a Bon Jovi CD and worship it right away. These days I find I have to let them grow on me a bit. (Although I did love their last CD of original material - Bounce - at first listen, probably because there were more rockin' songs on it). But I think I need to stop comparing to Slippery When Wet and New Jersey, because I doubt anything will ever compare to them. Anyway, here's a quickie song-by-song review:
Have a Nice Day - I even have Princess singing it. I liked it from the first time I heard it and haven't tired of it yet. It's the most rockin' song on the cd, and I would have liked to have more like it.
I Want to Be Loved - Great song. I dig it. Although one part of it does remind me of Austin Powers and his "Daddy Didn't Care" song. And Jon, your wish is my command - you want to be loved? You got it.
Welcome To Wherever You Are - I am not a big fan of the slower, soft-rock sound that they have gravitated towards lately, preferring the harder stuff. This is a good one though, and I find myself humming this one. I like it.
Who Says You Can't Go Home - Of course I love this one, because it was written about New Jersey and I totally relate. Love the melody. Great song, very catchy. I keep catching myself singing this one in the shower.
Last Man Standing - I am not sure about this one yet. I like the message behind it about real musicians vs. lipsynchers and phonies. At first listen, I didn't like this song much, but it is growing on me. Its almost like they are trying to do a grand, theatrical song - and that's not what they do best. Keep it simple, boys.
Bells of Freedom - Good song, if not a little corny.
Wildflower - I have always liked songs about odd, complicated girls because, well, I am one of them. This one is sweet.
Last Cigarette - The symbolism is a little much in the lyrics of this one, but I like the music and especially the chorus. Gets me tapping my feet while sitting at my desk.
I Am - A nice ballad without it being too ballad-y. Sweet without being corny. I like it.
Complicated - I would have liked this song to rock a little more. It seems like it could have gotten a little rougher, especially during the chorus. To me, the chorus is too sing-songy when it should have rocked out.
Novocaine - A little bland. Nothing stands out about this song.
Story of My Life - Another song I can't find anything special about. Its ok, harmless, doesn't suck, but just isn't that interesting.
Who Says You Can't Go Home (with Sugarland) - The addition of the female voice does a lot for this song. Her voice is really nice and while it does turn this into a somewhat twangy country-ish song, I still like it.
Overall, I like it and have been listening to it non-stop at work. If you have not bought it yet - first of all, why haven't you? But second of all, I do recommend it. For those of you who own it already - what do you think?