Album: Sad Clowns and Hillbillies
Release Date: April 21st
The poet laureate of Middle America, John Mellencamp fills his 23rd album with heartland blues, gospel and old-time country stomp. Tourmate Carlene Carter serves as his second-in-command, softening Mellencamp's increasingly Tom Waits-worthy rasp on a handful of duets, including the Sunday morning rave-up "My Soul's Got Wings" – featuring lyrics by Woody Guthrie – and penning several tunes herself. Another high-powered guest, Martina McBride, sings the bridge of "Grandview." Mellencamp goes it alone during the dark, doomed "Easy Target," though, taking a hard look at America's social divide under a new president. R.C.