No Better Than This (2010)


 
1. Save Some Time to Dream 2. The West End 3. Right Behind Me 4. A Graceful Fall 5. No Better Than This 6. Thinking About You 7. Coming Down the Road 8. No One Cares About Me 9. Love at First Sight 10.Don't Forget About Me 11.Each Day of Sorrow 12.Easter Eve 13.Clumsy Ol' World

 

It's one thing when an artist makes a statement that they wish to "go back to their roots" and maybe record songs that have a bit of an old flavor to them. It's something completely different when an artist pulls out all of the stops and not only uses fifty year old equipment to preserve the antiquity and spirit, but even makes the recording in some historic locales in the places of music history and then even adds the same flavor to the packaging of the release as well.

About the only thing you might say is missing is that none of the songs, themselves, are old chestnuts - they're all freshly newly written by Mellencamp himself. Strangely, this turns into an advantage (a very big one) since Mellencamp is so gifted in the areas of musicianship, that you would never have known that these were written by a guy in the second decade of the 21st century. These songs beautifully capture the feeling of country-western, rockabilly, americana, etc. that were in vogue long before Mellencamp was even born.

His personality and singing voice are perfect for this type of record - a bit more of a twang in his voice and you would swear that this could have fit right at home at The Grand Ole Opry back in the late 1940's. His writing style for these tracks is simple, unassuming and pretty downright believable as he sings (often in first person) of the unfortunate and downtrodden. This isn't (fortunately) a political album, but the characters in these songs are victims of the small town angst in rural America that could be in any time in history, yet as mentioned, we feel as though we're witnessing characters in old black-and-white newsreels that hung out with our grandparents.

Unlike the songs that these mirror from decades ago, these are quite lengthy, a couple even over six minutes in length. They never seem long, though. The album itself runs a bit long, and there are a few tracks here that bog down the collection and you wish that maybe he would have left off of the album. Like most of Mellencamp's latter records, he succeeds once again in exploring new territories.

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