John Cougar Mellencamp / John Mellencamp

Big Daddy

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Continuing with the folk inclinations of The Lonesome Jubilee, John Mellencamp recorded his most ambitious and serious-minded album with Big Daddy. Mellencamp produced the record himself, giving the album a concise and stripped-down sound, which help give his songs the appearance of being gritty statements of truth. Unfortunately, Mellencamp isn't saying nearly as much as he believes he is, since his lyrics tend to be clich├ęd and half-baked, making much of the album feel pompous and self-serving. This is only reinforced by the lack of rockers on Big Daddy, since he saves the most carefree moment -- a ripping cover of the Hombres' "Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)" -- for an unlisted bonus track. Still, when he does hit his target, like on the gentle "Jackie Brown," the stuttering, fiddle-driven "Sometimes a Great Notion," and even the self-pitying "Pop Singer," Mellencamp proves that his talents haven't abandoned him.

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