Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review: John Mellencamp - Life Death Love and Freedom

Label: Hear Music

Released: July 15, 2008

By many, John Mellencamp has long been thought of as kind of a heartland Springsteen and Life Death Love and Freedom won't do much to dispel that notion. However, Mellencamp exercises a grittiness that has long been absent from Springsteen's work. Where the Boss has more than once attempted to recreated the raw honesty of Nebraska and failed, Mellencamp actually succeeds, in his poor man's Springsteen way at least.

Life Death Love and Freedom has the human connections that Mellencamp's best work has thrived on. This time, however, it seems more personal. At 56, he seems too young to be contemplating his own death, but much of the album seems that way. Recurring themes of religion, the afterlife and the passage of time permeate this rootsy, bluesy album. Only "My Sweet Love" is upbeat. The rest of the album ranges from dark rock dirges to melancholy folk.

While Mellencamp isn't as good at introspection as he is at observation, Life Death Love and Freedom is still among his better albums. He doesn't shake his principal influence, but embraces it, so this record doesn't make a case for greatness. But it is honest and easy to connect with.

Here's the video for "My Sweet Love":

My Sweet Love (official) from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

Satriani: 6/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 6/10
Aretha: 7/10
Overall: 6/10

If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.

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Blogger Jeff said...

I really loved this album. It sounded so raw and passionate. I never was one for Mellencamp's earlier work, so I would classify this as his best album to date. The bluesy music coincided so well witht the lyrics, I don't think he could have made this album much better than it was.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I was actually one of those who dismissed him after the Cougar years, but later on I recognized him as a great American storyteller in song so he has my respect; I only own a hits album and may one day seek to hear the catalog

1:19 PM  

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