John Mellencamp: Freedom's Road (Universal)

 |   |  1 min read

John Mellencamp: Rural Route
John Mellencamp: Freedom's Road (Universal)

If this guy hadn't been such a dickhead when he was John Cougar in the early 80s, or so arrogant when he became John Cougar Mellencamp we'd probably be falling all over him now as one of the authentic voices of Americana/alt.country rock.

He reinvented himself as a man with a conscience and in touch with the spirit of small towns in the Mid-West, the disenfranchised and the working class.

Time has allowed we cynics to admit that has long since ceased to be a pose and his albums have touched some deep and dark places -- but of course others do that too (notably Springsteen who seems his most visible competitor). But that takes nothing away from Mellencamp and the music he makes which is often closer to Steve Earle than many critics might like concede.

This time out -- on a gritty and rockin' album which comes with a four track disc of acoustic versions of album tracks -- he harks back to a better America (The Americans which might sound hollow to those on the sharp end of their imperialism but is actually about that older America), the battering the heartland has taken (Ghost Towns Along The Highway, the menacing Rural Route) and a kind of Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger working class optimism.

On one track he speaks of Forgiveness -- and if you've never forgiven him for all that bullish pomposity then now might be the time. This sits well alongside your Steve Earle, Springsteen and all those trying to give voice to a better America than the current headlines indicate.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Savages: Adore Life (Matador)

Savages: Adore Life (Matador)

At this distance it was easy to be sceptical about the British music press embracing Savages and their album-cum-manifesto Silence Yourself three years ago. The all-women quartet —... > Read more

Dr John and the Lower 911: City That Care Forgot (Shock)

Dr John and the Lower 911: City That Care Forgot (Shock)

The good Doctor's voice can be an acquired taste and there is no doubt he lost many loyalists when he went schmaltzy and kinda boring in the late 80s/early 90s. It was almost as if he had run his... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Bernie McGann: 1966 (Sarang Bang)

Bernie McGann: 1966 (Sarang Bang)

Because there is a surprising paucity of readily available music by the great Australian jazz saxophonist Bernie McGann -- who died in September 2013 aged 76 -- this is an especially gratifying... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Will Waters of Kerretta

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Will Waters of Kerretta

The Auckland-based three-piece instrumental outfit Kerretta have taken a big step up with their atmospheric, intelligently programmed second album Saansilo and -- although their debut album Vilayer... > Read more