Life Death Love And Freedom
By Adam Sweeting
Springsteen school graduate excels with scary country sound
This bracingly raw set of fables finds the Indiana balladeer digging deeper into the country-blues roots he finds increasingly fascinating, so potently that it's like time-traveling back to the depression and Roosevelt's New Deal. Mellencamp uses traditional forms and mostly acoustic instruments, but his messages are contemporary. ("Foundation is crumbling, the inner structure's gone"), and his songs about death and doubt carry a chilling ring of authenticity. In "Longest Days", he's written one of the most harrowing songs about age and disillusion you'll ever hear. Bleak but brilliant.