John Mellencamp has evolved logically and realistically on a songwriting level since he took a walk on Chestnut Street and found himself caught up in some sort of incident. Not really sure what Mellencamp thinks of his material from way back then, but I love everything he’s done from every stage of his career. Simply put, from a songwriting and performing standpoint, this man can do no wrong. I love each of his albums for what they conveyed at the time they came out.
“Plain Spoken” is John’s 22nd album and maybe the best of his career. I know that’s taking a big leap. He’s done some great stuff, but this album is truly a masterpiece. Reflective, honest, simple, and still catchy as hell. The first three tunes on the album, “Troubled Man,” “Sometimes There’s God,” and “Isolation of Mister” are outstanding and set the tone for what is a highly addicting record. “The Company of Cowards,” “Tears in Vain,” and the bold social/political “Lawless Times” add to the beauty of this album. If this album isn’t his best, it certainly gives his other work a run for the money.
The songs are presented in a stripped down acoustic format, but don’t let that deter you if this isn’t your cup of tea. Mellencamp is aging, sure, but throughout this album you realize he’s the same guy that sang “Authority Song,” the same guy who has rubbed folks the wrong way, the same guy who does it his way, no compromise. That’s the guy I love.
“Plain Spoken” is the best record I’ve heard in a long time. That’s about as plain as I can put it.