Springfield, MA Sunday Republican LDL&F Album Review

John Mellencamp, "Life, Death, Love and Freedom" (Hear Music) 4 Stars It's really refreshing when artists come through with some of the best work of their career at a time when they really don't need to. John Mellencamp has been to the rock 'n' roll mountaintop, and could comfortably rest on his stack of hits the rest of his life. But like John Lennon did on "Double Fantasy," Mellencamp is writing for people his age and frequently doing so brilliantly on the perfectly-titled 14-song saga "Life, Death, Love and Freedom." Produced by T-Bone Burnett and featuring Mellencamp's veteran touring band, the disc is sparse and to the point. The somber wake-up call about the shortness of life, "Longest Days," sets the tone immediately, and other cuts including the raw blues of "If I Die Sudden" and "Don't Need This Body" offer deeply spiritual thoughts guaranteed to make you listen again and again, just to get closer to where the writer was at, with each new spin. There are also some upbeat musical moments as well, particularly the first single "My Sweet Love," which sounds very reminiscent of vintage of Buddy Holly. The CD comes packaged as a double disc. The first is a standard CD. The second disc, a DVD, features the same songs except in the very warm sounding 96 khz, 24-bit high definition CODE audio format. Developed by Burnett and his team of engineers, it is playable on all DVD players. Kevin O’Hare