Cougar or Springsteen? That was the battle in the early ’80s. And, clearly, Bruce won. But now we don’t have to choose because Jersey’s Boss joins Bloomington’s hero for several songs on Mellencamp’s latest country folk/blues collection, Strictly A One-Eyed Jack.

I’ve always enjoyed Mellencamp’s work–from his early classic rock stuff to his later, darker and more serious work. Recently, he has spent a lot of time rediscovering the blues and covering the greats, and now he’s got an original set of songs that sound like they’ve been around for ages.

It’s to his credit that the duets with Springsteen don’t come close to his jazzy, horn-driven ballad “Gone Too Soon,” the country-folk of “Drivin’ in the Rain,” and the title track–which sounds like the reliable Mellencamp from his Scarecrow days.

In all, a very, very nice album.

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