Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Mojo (Reprise Records, 2010)

Thirty-four years after the release of their first album, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers show no signs of slowing down. Mojo is the outfit's twelfth studio album, not counting Petty's three solo albums or the recent album Mudcrutch on which Petty and two other Heartbreakers figure prominently. Petty's long time fans have a good idea what to expect, and while they might not be overwhelmed by Mojo, they won't be disappointed by it either.

Mojo can roughly be broken into two halves. The first half finds Petty and his bandmates -- lead guitarist Mike Campbell, keyboardist Benmont Tench, bassist Ron Blair, drummer Steve Ferrone, and third guitarist/harmonica player Scott Thurston -- heading in something of jam-band direction, similar to what Petty did on the Mudcrutch album. Two of the album's strongest tracks, "First Flash of Freedom" and "Running Man's Bible," run in excess of six minutes. Eventually the album takes a bluesier turn, though; presumably this is what inspired the album's title. "U. S. 41" is some fine swampy acoustic blues, and the single "I Should Have Known It" and closing song "Good Enough" features some blistering guitar work from Campbell. As always, the musicianship is rock solid. Mojo may lack the kind of standout song that would force its way onto a Petty Best Of, but that's partly because of the depth of Petty's back catalog.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' stick-to-basics approach to making music is certainly familiar, and if there's a fault in it it's that the familiarity sometimes leads to predictability. Having said that, Petty's formula has worked for him for a very long time, and you can always count on enough quality songs to make the album worth your while. Mojo is not an exception.

Overall grade: B+

reviewed by Scott

The opening song "Jefferson Jericho Blues"

No comments: