Trouble No More (2003)


 
1. Stones in My Passway 2. Death Letter 3. Johnny Hart 4. Baltimore Oriole 5. Teardrops Will Fal 6. Diamond Joe 7. The End of the World 8. Down in the Bottom 9. Lafayette 10.Joliet Bound 11.John the Revelator 12.To Washington

 

Sadly, for the last several years, Mellencamp had been in a bit of a rut. Even when his releases were strong, the record buying public seemed to not take as much notice as they had twenty-some years ago. This might have been a factor in Mellencamp deciding to go back to his roots and record a set of old covers, or it may just have been what he felt like doing at the time. Never a person to really care about image, nor what people were thinking about him at the time - he seemed to always follow his own guiding star, and this is one of those instances where the ideas and instincts really paid off well.

What's so interesting about this album is that he doesn't stick to any particular genre. The styles he tackles are all over the place, meaning that obviously his influences were not one dimensional. Regardless of the style of the song, once Mellencamp puts his gritty vocals to the song and keeps the spirt simple and direct, there's absolutely no doubt that he can do all of the songs here justice.

The first two songs, Stones in My Passway and Death Letter seem to indicate that he's going for mostly a blues tribute (there was talk that this was a "blues" album, but that's really not the case). He shifts gears all over the place, though, covering country, gospel, cajun, folk and early rock as well. There's a few songs that sound so Americana, that you would swear they were Mellencamp's own had you not heard the original. Teardrops will Fall and Diamond Joe sound so indigenous to Mellencamp, that you would swear they were lifted off of his Big Daddy album over fifteen years ago.

There are times when you would swear that he's about to blow it before you even begin to listen to the song. Is he really going to try to cover Hoagy Charmichael's Baltimore Oriole? Or the great sixties classic The End of the World? Yet after listening to these tunes only once, it's obvious that he does these songs incredible justice and makes you into a believer.

The only time he blows it is on the last song To Washington. He can't resist changing up the lyrics to bitch about the current president and really destroys the mood completely. It was really a shame that Mellencamp never really could learn how to write an effective protest song. Being the last song on the album, it's a horrible climax.

That sin aside, this album is one of his strengths, and you almost wish that he'd put out a "volume 2" someday.

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