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Cape Cod Times: Record Roundup - Life Death Live and Freedom Review
06.11.2009 - Capt. Ken's Music Musings - By Ken Capobianco

Finally, many found John Mellencamp’s last record, “Life Death Love and Freedom” a bit too dark and murky (that was an instance when T-Bone Burnett’s production, like his work with Sam Phillips, was too quirky for pop fans). It was a great record about loss, mortality and the sad inevitability of aging and proved that Mellencamp is one of the more honest and fearless rock writers. Everyone I know said, “Too depressing, when’s the new Tom Petty coming out?”

Well, Mellencamp must have realized that some of his best songs got overlooked so he put out an EP, “Life, Death, LIVE and Freedom,” (Hear Music) featuring eight songs recorded live. And with this, you hear the songs from a different point of view. Mellencamp’s voice is clear and his phrasing is different. The vibe is not of fatigue and despair but of recognizing the song’s dark sentiments and rising above them.

Essentially, that’s what performing live to a crowd that wants to rock and feel good is about: transcendence. Life in America circa 2009 may be atrocious. But we are here together, alive, so let’s stare down death with the demons on our back, acknowledge our limitations, and refuse to blink.

That’s what you get here. Terrific band performances of songs like “Young Without Lovers,” “A Ride Back Home,” the terrific “Jena” (sounds like a completely different song) and the soulful “My Sweet Love.” Mellencamp's always been one of our best live performers and he breathes new life into these songs on this. It comes out on June 23.
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