John Mellencamp Trouble No More

Since his retreat from the mainstream spotlight around a decade ago, America’s favourite small-town boy has probably missed more than a few opportunities to recreate his image as a respected alt-country figure in the mould of Lucinda Williams. However, Trouble No More seems the first step in that direction. Featuring 12 covers spanning Delta blues and Woody Guthrie, to syrupy country and even one of Williams’ own songs, the album shows Mellencamp reaching far and wide in an attempt to connect with an American song tradition in a way that, at this point in his career, is thoroughly fitting. Helping greatly is a largely stripped down, but powerful band led by guitarist Andy York. Their versions of Robert Johnson’s "Stones In My Passway” and Son House’s "Death Letter” are filled with a surprisingly White Stripes-like attitude, while "Diamond Joe” and "Joliet Bound” exude a back porch warmth. There’s even a nod to Tom Waits edginess on "Baltimore Oriole.” It’s hard to imagine Mellencamp ever putting out an album this diverse and uncompromising in his heyday, and all that needs to be said is, better late than never. (Columbia)