One Track Mind: John Mellencamp, “Sometimes There’s God” from Plain Spoken (2014)

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John Mellencamp lives up to his forthcoming album’s straight-forward title on the second advance song from Plain Spoken, delineating the times when we bask in grace — and those unfortunate times when we just can’t — on the brutally honest, but ultimately uplifting “Sometimes There’s God.”

Unlike so many of his more recent, starkly portentious songs, “Sometimes There’s God” finds a brightly colored hem to grab onto as the purpled clouds hurtle past. He’s resolute here, where he might have been simply defeated before, and that sensibility is echoed within the song’s easy-going propulsion.

Mellencamp sounds wisened, something that’s shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore — some 40 years after his debut. But he also sounds heartened, something that most certainly is, even as his band tosses aside the grinding seriousness of old for something just shy of a Byrdsy jangle.

Plain Spoken is due on September 23, 2014 via Republic Records. Between now and then, Mellencamp will perform at the annual Famr Aid benefit, to be held on September 13 with co-founders Neil Young and Willie Nelson. An 80-city North American tour follows in January.

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