One guest artist back for round two is Karen Fairchild from Little Big Town. For those who don’t know, Little Big Town is somewhat of a countrified version of Fleetwood Mac with Karen being the “Stevie Nicks” of the band (and that’s meant as a compliment). LBT was sprinkled generously throughout Mellencamp’s Freedom’s Road album to great effect. Here, because of the more stripped down approach, he has chosen to utilize Karen’s voice to harmonize and duet with him, much in the way Springsteen/Scialfa, Young/Ronstadt, Knopfler/Harris and Buckingham/Nicks have before them. It all adds up to an unexpected but interesting combination that deserves at least a couple of spins to appreciate the depth of what is being created here.
Speaking of depth, this is the first album to be released under the new audio format CODE. Developed by T Bone and readied in time for the launch of this record, CODE claims that it “creates high-definition audio that is virtually indistinguishable from the original master tapes”.