Bands like The Avett Brothers have shown that folk music doesn’t have to be boring. And we can trace back the resurrection of that upbeat folk rock back to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack that earned producer T-Bone Burnett multiple Grammy Awards. Even Bruce Springsteen brought plenty of energy to his Seeger Sessions album that covered songs from folk icon Pete Seeger.
With all that in mind, the latest folk album from John Mellencamp is pretty bland considering that other contemporary folk albums of the past decade even with No Better Than This being produced by Burnett. Mellencamp recently said he is done being a rock star, and it sounds is if he purposely decided to have no to little fun on the new album and not even in a dark way like his last album Life, Death, Love and Freedom. No Better Than This is just bland.
The album doesn’t do any justice to the places where Mellencamp recorded the songs. While on his minor league baseball park tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, Mellencamp would take detours to record in places like Sun Studio, the former home of Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, and even the Sheraton Gunter Hotel where Robert Johnson recorded some of his legendary tunes.
Mellencamp and Burnett even recorded much like in those landmarks’ heyday on an old Amplex reel-to-reel tape recorder in mono. But it sounds as if he was trying too hard to recreate that fifties feel that he forgot to add some passion because that isn’t exclusive attribute to a folk star. As Mumford & Sons show, you can be passionate about making folk music too.
Song to Download - Each Day of Sorrow
No Better Than This gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.