Album Review: “Scarecrow” by John Mellencamp
John Mellencamp performing Check It Out - John Mellencamp / Youtube
John “Cougar” Mellencamp wanted to take a chance on the classic rock stuff during his heyday, dismissing the electronic-driven sound of the 80’s. This dedication was so apparent that he even brought his band to be required to learn tons of old singles to heart, all while rehearsing for Scarecrow’s recording sessions. Mellencamp wanted the album to carry the American roots setting, particularly the transitional economy affecting the daily lives of farmers and their families, which is spread onto the infectious 60’s style musical approach.
Welcoming the listener is “Rain On The Scarecrow”, a bright, folky arrangement that has Mellencamp chanting the lyrics in a haunting mood. “Grandma’s Theme” follows, which takes inspiration from the traditional tune “In The Baggage Coach Ahead”. Mellencamp even goes as far as having his own grandmother Laura Mellencamp sing for good measure. “Small Town” ensues after, now sporting a rocking cadence and arrangement to it. “Minutes To Memories” still adopts the folk-rocker concept for a seamless blend with the previous track.
“Justice And Independence ’85” has Mellencamp taking from funk influences to turn it into a gritty rock track. “Between A Laugh And A Tear” takes us back to the old Johnny Cougar days with its nostalgic rocker formula with a light dusting of riffs and backing vocals. “Rumbleseat” is an acoustic-based record that has an upbeat weave of guitar melodies and perfectly complementing bass parts. The album closes with “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. (A Salute to 60’s Rock)”, hits the nail on the head with how the album should be tied together. It features the bright jangliness, with intersecting lead parts in the middle.
Mellencamp’s dedication to his music being refined clearly shows in Scarecrow, with the singer-songwriter orchestrating the exact atmosphere he wanted to convey on the record, by making the experience inclusive not only to his band and the fans, but to the themes from which he gets inspiration from.