Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Blunt and stubbornly engaging, it may be Mellencamp’s most candid effort in years.
  2. 80
    Mellencamp croaks a sequence of raw, all but nihilistic yet far from self-pitying first-person tales about, well, death mainly, leavened by the odd rather forlorn reference to the life, love and freedom elements of the title. [Nov 2008, p.111]
  3. 80
    Bleak but brilliant. [Nov 2008, p.109]
  4. Mellencamp teamed up with producer T Bone Burnett to create a whole new sound--a set of textured, atmospheric folk and country blues that adds up to one of the most compelling albums of Mellencamp's career.
  5. Those who’ve come to associate him with theme songs to bad car commercials should check his reawakening on this late-career turnaround.
  6. Searching for a ray of lyrical light in John Mellencamp's latest treatise on the state of the world proves consuming—but largely fruitless. That, however, makes the album all the more compelling.
  7. It’s a brave album in the way it sets aside all his old consolations.
  8. Eschewing any concept of "radio ready" and singing with a gruff immediacy, Mellencamp tackles all of the titular concepts on this folk- and blues-based material with a sense of liberation that is keenly palpable.
  9. A moody, stark and hypnotically discomfiting assortment of ruminations.
  10. Make no mistake, Life Death Love and Freedom is a serious work of art.
  11. Though he may be contemplating mortality, Mellencamp, with his weathered snarl, still sounds remarkably alive.
  12. For the most part Life Death Love and Freedom makes good on--and somehow makes entertainment of--its sober sense of purpose.
  13. Musically, Mellencamp seems to have been listening closely to the first five Bob Dylan albums, paying more attention to the first of them, the largely traditional, folk-blues-styled Bob Dylan, than the last, the folk-rock "Bringing It All Back Home."
  14. As the title implies, it tackles the big issues, sometimes at the expense of melody, but there's a handful of very fine songs here. [Nov 2008, p.118]
  15. His world-weariness feels legitimately earned rather than affected keeps Life from being just an exercise in pessimism.
  16. Despite high points --the powerful 'Longest Days'; the romping 'My Sweet Love'; the brooding 'John Cockers'--most of these 14 songs struggle to leave a lasting impression.
  17. With producer T-Bone Burnett stripping his rootsy jangle down to a monochromatic, almost lo-fi rumble, Life Death Love And Freedom practically demands to be called "Mellencamp's darkest yet," but it's really just relentlessly downbeat and one-note.
  18. 50
    By now he's decided he'd rather be Bob Dylan--recent Dylan, that is, devoted to phlegm-clogged blues-codger grumbles about how he's ready for his pine box. Producer T Bone Burnett proves a willing accomplice. [Aug 2008, p.88]

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