Have a Nice Day, Bon Jovi's ninth studio album of original material, picks up where 2002's Bounce left off, showcasing a harder, heavier band than either 2000's Crush or Jon Bon Jovi's 1997 solo effort, Destination Anywhere. Not only that, but this 2005 album finds Jon Bon Jovi picking up on the serious undercurrent of Bounce, writing a series of angry, somber neo-protest songs that form the heart of this record. While he's not exactly explicitly political here, there's little question that he's dissatisfied with the world today, whether it's about life in small town America or the sorry state of pop music; he even goes so far to write a variation on Bob Dylan's classic "Chimes of Freedom" with "Bells of Freedom." Since he's stretching out lyrically, the band finds a comfort zone in sticking in the tried-and-true arena rock that's been their signature sound for 20 years now. While they sound appropriately grand and powerful -- this is one of the few groups that sounds right at home in large venues -- at times they pump up their choruses a little bit too much, so they sound strident, not anthemic. That heavy-handedness, coupled with a loud but colorless production from Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora, and John Shanks, with Desmond Child acting as executive producer for the whole thing, gives Have a Nice Day a sound that's a bit too monochromatic for the band's ambitions, or for its own good: at times, getting through the record can be a little bit of a chore, since there's not much fun to be had here. Nevertheless, it's hard not to admire Jon Bon Jovi's attempt to stretch himself, particularly when he balances his earnestness with tunes as gentle as "Wildflower."
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Jennifer Nettles