Tampa Bay's Pop Life: No Better Than This Album Review

By Sean Daly

Producer T Bone Burnett calls John Mellencamp’s 25th album “haunted,” and he might be right. No Better Than This, which arrives in stores on Tuesday, was recorded in three hallowed places: the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Ga., one of the first black churches in North America; Sun Studios in Memphis, where Elvis hollered into history books; and the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where bluesman Robert Johnson recorded "Stones in My Passway." But for all the talk of ghosts, this is one of Mellencamp’s liveliest records, too, no chip on his famously surly shoulders for the first time in a long time. The consistently inspired No Better Than This was recorded in mono, on vintage equipment, for rustic charm; most of the songs catch and cook, especially the title track. If you want to weep, try out the wistfully weathered "Thinking About You."