Elmore Magazine Life, Death, Love And Freedom Review

Elmore, November/December 2008

Life Death Love and Freedom
(Hear Music)

If you’re musically aware enough to be reading this magazine, then you don’t need an introductory bio on John Mellencamp, but what may come in handy before listening to Mellencamp’s latest release, Life Death Love and Freedom, is an explanation of where he is coming from in releasing such an incredibly deep and personal CD. Mellencamp has always provided beautifully descriptive insights into everyday life and the heart of rural America. Now he is applying that same depth to his personal world, which (especially for those of us not too far behind him in age) can leave you with a foreboding feeling of doom, unless you listen to it carefully enough to hear the glimmers of hope that lie beneath the seemingly relentless tales of misery.

With lyrics like “sometimes you get sick and you don’t get better” from the opener “Longest Days,” it is vividly clear that you won’t find anyone’s wedding song buried in Life Death Love and Freedom. “Troubled Land” finds Mellencamp’s voice rougher than usual as it weaves through the swirling organ and syncopated percussion. Mellencamp’s music is not about individual musicianship but about a central theme, which in this case is mortality as starkly demonstrated in “Don’t Need This Body” and “John Cockers.” “A Ride Back Home” still deals with death but in a slightly less somber tone, while “For the Children” and “A Brand New Song” offer a slight sigh of relief. “My Sweet Love” (which, rumor has it, his wife convinced him to include) is actually, dare I say, upbeat.

Listen to Life Death Love and Freedom as often as need be to cultivate the hope that lies within. It’s worth every bit of effort.
- Steve Walbridge