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Plain Spoken

John Mellencamp

At 62, John Mellencamp has spent his nearly 40-year career figuring out exactly where he fits in the American grain, and he’s never inhabited traditional folk and blues-imbued settings as personally as on his 22nd album. Singing with gruff directness, the recent divorcé deals with relationship struggles (the somber “Tears in Vain”), as well as broader societal and moral worry (the hard-driving “Lawless Times”). He recorded the album in Indiana with executive production by T Bone Burnett, who has brought his stripped-down approach to Mellencamp’s recent albums. “I don’t trust myself, I don’t trust you,” he intones darkly. It’s a lonely old night, as he used to sing, and a raw one. 

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