The Courier Journal: No Better Than This Review

The Courier Journal By Jeffrey Lee Puckett

John Mellencamp's “No Better Than This” is an evocative exercise in retro, recorded in mono under what most would consider primitive conditions — a church, hotel room, Sun Studios — while sticking with spare acoustic arrangements and lean rockabilly that's appreciably closer to hillbilly.

Mellencamp keeps the songs equally stripped down, writing about subject matter dear to him: personal responsibility, how to live with a measure of grace, the pains of an examined life, love's wild extremes of enormous power and great fragility. It's an album that feels earned, rooted in experience and reflection.

The conceit of recording in a church above an underground railroad, the home of Elvis, and the hotel room where Robert Johnson laid down some of the world's most scarifying blues is secondary to the music, simply a means to a sweet end.

Authenticity: 8 - Wisdom: 8