Mojo Magazine Reviews No Better Than This

Rounder Records - September 2010 Issue 202
By Bob Mehr

Veteran rocker hits the road for stellar album of "routes" music.

Known for his pop hits and mile-wide acerbic streak, John Mellencamp's late career has seen a serious artistic renaissance, as evidenced on 2008's collaboration with T Bone Burnett, Life Death, Love and Freedom. Reuniting with Burnett, Mellencamp's latest is a concept piece recorded in a series of historic locations: Sun Studios in Memphis, the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio (where Robert Johnson cut his 1936 Columbia sides) and the landmark First African Baptist Church in Savannah, a former haven for runaway slaves. Which might sound like a stunt but results in a deeply felt and surprisingly enjoyable explorations of American vernacular music, a set of originals essaying everything from Appalachian mountain folk to boom-chicka country to jumping rockability. Burnett's unobtrusive old school production - the album was recorded and mixed entirely in mono - adds to the authentic ambience.