No Better Than This

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Partially recorded at the historic Sun Studio in Memphis, John Mellencamp’s latest album trades his signature heartland rockers for mellow, acoustic songs that tip the proverbial hat to rock/country pioneers Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. Standout tracks like “No Better Than This,” “Coming Down the Road” and “Each Day of Sorrow” feature a classic, rocking boom-chuck bass line and were recorded with a process similar to the one used by Sun Records founder Sam Phillips. Though the sparse production here is a pleasant throwback, John’s weathered voice loses some of its clarity in this production style, and the lyrics are a bit clunky at times. “Save Some Time to Dream” is a hodgepodge of sometimes-trite advice such as Take some time to think before you speak your mind, while “Love at First Sight,” which begins with a man’s romantic musings on love and marriage with a stranger, quickly turns into a morbid, second-rate story of adultery and murder. Still, procurers of classic country-rock and rockabilly should find some gems in this set.

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