New Hampshire Let's Go: Life Death Live and Freedom Review

4 out of 5 stars
“Life Death Live and Freedom” is a riff on the title of John Mellencamp’s recently released studio CD, “Life Death Love and Freedom.” It’s a novel idea, releasing live and studio versions almost simultaneously. And it’s a good thing; these songs were meant to be performed live, they were written in the folk tradition, the troubadour tradition, in which a song traveled from one singer to the next, morphing along the way. Living, in other words. These literal soundboard recordings, with no studio overdubbing, have an immediacy that elevates them even beyond their original, already formidable quality. When Mellencamp sings about mortality in “If I Die Sudden,” “Don’t Need This Body” and “Longest Days,” you feel the physical and psychic aches. “Troubled Land” has a guitar bite that sharpens its political edge. And the closer, the gentle rocker, “My Sweet Love,” with Dane Clark’s retro-funk drumbeats keeping time, is, well, sweet. Mellencamp may be contemplating dying, but musically, he’s more alive than ever.
— Lynne Margolis

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