USA TODAY review: 3 1/2 (out of four)
John Mellencamp's wry tunes give spooky new musical spirit
The album, out June 4, is produced by T Bone Burnett; Stephen King wrote libretto
Various artists, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County
In 2012, a new musical with a score by John Mellencamp, a book by Stephen King and musical direction by T Bone Burnett opened at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre, tracing the spooky tale of troubled spirits — principally two siblings and the girl who'd become between them, fatally — haunting a Mississippi cabin where the siblings' now-grownup kid brother brings his own warring sons. Another young lady shows up and, well, a light-hearted romp it ain't.
On this new album, impeccably produced by Burnett, more famous voices take on Mellencamp's wry, haunted tunes, steeped in folk and blues, which name actors such as Meg Ryan, Samantha Mathis and Matthew McConaughey embellish with spot-on readings excerpted from King's libretto. Elvis Costello pops up as a savvy Satanic figure on the drolly creepy That's Me, and Neko Case brings a wonderfully tart freshness to the teasing That's Who I Am.
Kris Kristofferson brings a more weary resonance to the paternal/fraternal lament How Many Days, while Sheryl Crow, Rosanne Cash, Dave Alvin, Phil Alvin and Mellencamp himself ably serve the grit and poignance of songs that address the ghosts and monsters inside all of us.
The album is out June 4, but streaming now at The Wall Street Journal.
Download: Aforementioned songs, My Name Is Joe, What Kind of Man Am I