Mellencamp’s tobaccoseasoned voice has noticeably aged, but the wear and tear fits his latest effort’s rustic, vintage country presentation. In “Battle of Angels,” a dusty acoustic gallop is colored by fluttery mandolin fills and pastoral fiddle accents, while Mellencamp and Carter harmonize like a blend of whiskey and honey. Rock isn’t completely abandoned, though; “Grandview” has some of Mellencamp’s familiar rural swagger, and it’s bolstered by a guitar assist from ex-Guns N’ Roses member Izzy Stradlin.
Mellencamp long preferred the intimacy of indoor theaters, where crowds are more attentive, but was persuaded to embark this summer on a rare tour of outdoor amphitheaters in support of his new record. On the cross-country jaunt, he’s being joined by Carter, as well as songstress Emmylou Harris, who’s been an influential part of the folk and country landscape for more than four decades.