Mellencamp has characterized the album as a collection of "modern electric folk songs." With backing from his legendary touring band, the album's 14 tracks were recorded at his studio in Bloomington, Indiana and mixed in Los Angeles with Burnett behind the boards for all of the sessions. Mellencamp cites Burnett's production as key to "finding the soul of each song." As far as signing to Hear Music is concerned, he noted, "In today's business environment, each artist needs to pursue his own path and determine what works best. For me, Hear is the right way to go for this album. I'm glad to be working with a team of open minded people who seem to be interested in what the music is about and what it sounds like."
"John Mellencamp is true original, a writer and performing artist of passion, talent and spirit who in the course of his exceptional career has maintained a unique and distinctive voice in his songwriting," said Glen Barros, president & CEO of Concord Music Group who oversees the Hear Music label. "The songs on this record are perhaps his most intimate, honest and poignant of his career. We are delighted to have this opportunity to work on ‘Life, Love, Death and Freedom.'"
The album will be the first ever release in the ΧΟΔΕ (CODE) format. T Bone Burnett and his team of engineers developed CODE, a proprietary audio technology that creates high-definition audio files that are virtually indistinguishable from the original master tapes. The resonance, warmth and presence that has been realized with CODE is unprecedented in the digital era. The CODE version of "Life, Death, Love and Freedom" is a DVD that will come packaged with a standard CD version of the album, available at all retail outlets, at no additional cost to the consumer. The CODE disc is playable on virtually all DVD machines including stand-alone players and drives integrated into computer systems. The DVD's content can be copied into most computer music software including iTunes and can, then, be downloaded onto personal music players such as the iPod. The standard CD is included to answer all possible compatibility questions. Mellencamp commented, "When T Bone introduced me to CODE, it was a remarkable experience. I could hear the music the way it was intended to be heard. I'm very happy the people are going to be able to share this experience in a way that's so true to our original intent."
Mellencamp toured the U.S. and Canada towards the end of last year and had been performing at least half of the songs heard on "Life, Death, Love and Freedom" for concert audiences who have been extremely receptive to the new material. Earlier, he previewed several of the songs in New York at the annual Farm Aid benefit concert and at a benefit for New York Housing Works. He was a surprise guest performer at San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival earlier this fall and joined T Bone Burnett on stage to preview some of the album's songs.
Mellencamp was inducted earlier this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and this past December received the ASCAP Foundation's Champion Award in recognition of the his outstanding use of music in the service of humanity. His musical collaboration with author Stephen King, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, is in the workshop stage with a full production anticipated within the next two years.