It's so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of John Mellencamp's 25th album, "No Better Than This," that the music itself can get short shrift. That's understandable given the uniqueness of the set. It was made with a single microphone and a 55-year-old reel-to-reel recorder and recorded in a trio of historic locales: Memphis' Sun Studios, the San Antonio hotel room where Robert Johnson recorded and America's inaugural black church in Savannah, Ga. It makes for a good story, and fortunately, "No Better Than This" sounds as good as it reads, with raw, in-your-face sonics that make it feel like Mellencamp is just a few feet away. The songs are intimate, thoughtful and rank with the best of his mature brand of folk-styled rock. The title track and "Each Day of Sorrow" kick with old-school rockabilly energy, but it's the spare, haunting songs like "Save Some Time to Dream," "A Graceful Fall" and "Love at First Sight" that leave the most lasting mark and best detail the "Clumsy Ol' World" Mellencamp draws with such vivid detail.