John Mellencamp – Sad Clowns and Hillbillies – 2017
I started to listen to John Mellencamp when the Lonesome Jubilee came out. When was that? 1987? During that time he was still calling himself John Cougar Mellencamp. There’s actually a rather long story about his name. From the early days, it was just John Cougar and as far as I know that was due to record company demands. But nowadays – on Sad Clowns and Hillbillies, he uses his real name and has done for some years now. I have a lot of his albums now, not all of them but I sure plan to own them all.
Sad Clowns and Hillbillies is John Mellencamps 23rd studio album. I think it’s quite a task to release that many songs and still sound fresh and interesting. This isn’t true for all the albums mind you. Some of them has been really deep dives. But with a recording career stretching from 1976 till today, I think you are allowed to have a couple of lesser albums made.
There has also been some a few different musical styles over the years. Well, he stayed in the roots, the rock, but some different flavors on different albums. Here he explores some country and folk influences. I think he’s done that for a couple of albums now and I think that the style really suits him.
One thing that I don’t think he’s done so frequently in the past is duets. Here are six out of thirteen songs duets. That’s almost haft of the record. Most of them is with Carlene Carter but also with Martina McBride. I have nothing to say about their performance really. I think they do a fine job. I’m just noticing the fact.
This wasn’t an easy album to get into. At first I didn’t like it too much. I thought it was lame. But after I listened to it a few times I changed my mind. The melodies are catchy and there’s definitely that John Mellencamp sound we all love. We, as in his fans that is. Nice riffs and hooks and all that in the music too. Sad Clowns and Hillbillies is a really fine album. I like it a lot!