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You Can Listen to John Mellencamp’s New ‘Sad Clowns and Hillbillies’ Album Now

John Mellencamp
Adam Bettcher, Getty Images

John Mellencamp‘s new album comes out on Friday, but you can listen to the entire thing right now.

NPR has an exclusive stream of Sad Clowns and Hillbillies, Mellencamp’s 23rd album and first since 2014’s Plain Spoken. The 13-track album is playing as part of NPR’s First Listen series at its website.

As NPR points out, the album was recorded in Nashville, Ind., not far from Mellencamp’s home in Bloomington, with country star Carlene Carter, stepdaughter of the late Johnny Cash. A couple of its songs had previously made their way to fans’ ears before the April 28 release of Sad Clowns and Hillbillies.

But the album isn’t technically a duets record, since Mellencamp sings some of the songs alone. NPR notes the record was originally conceived as a collection of spiritual country numbers, but that concept was eventually abandoned even though traces of its origins do appear on the final LP.

Like many albums from Mellencamp’s past, Sad Clowns and Hillbillies takes a rustic, rootsy path to American music, underlining the tracks with acoustic instruments and a stripped-down, front-porch approach. There’s also a political side to songs like “Battle of Angels,” “Grandview” and “Easy Target.”

Mellencamp will hit the road in support of the album this summer, with a tour kicking off on June 5 in Greenwood Village, Colo. It wraps up Labor Day weekend near Youngstown, Ohio, with a show at the Canfield Fair. Carter will join him for all dates, as will another country music veteran, Emmylou Harris.

John Mellencamp Albums Ranked Worst to Best

Next: The Story of John Mellencamp’s Long Battle to Escape ‘Johnny Cougar’

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