No Better Than This Review

It's so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of John Mellencamp's 25th album that the music itself can get short shrift. That's understandable given the uniqueness of, in 2010, a mono set made with a single microphone and a 55-year-old reel-to-reel recorder and done in a trio of historic locales, including Sun Studios in Memphis, the hotel room where Robert Johnson recorded in San Antonio, Texas, and America's inaugural black church in Savannah, Ga. It makes for a good story, and fortunately "No Better Than This" sounds as good as it reads, with raw, in-your-face sonics that make Mellencamp feel like he's just a few feet away and intimate, thoughtful songs that rank with the best of his mature brand of folk-styled rock. The title track and "Each Day of Sorrow" kick with old school rockabilly energy, but it's the spare, haunting songs that leave the most lasting mark and best detail the "Clumsy Ol' World" Mellencamp draws with such vivid detail.