Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers — “Mojo”

Big headlines in relation to CD releases can easily fall the way of hype that it’s nice to find a record that lives up to the bold print.

But what else could one expect from Tom Petty—crusader and hero of fans everywhere—and his Heartbreakers?

With Mojo, they deliver a gritty, almost-live disc with all the elements we love in anything bearing an incarnation of Tom Petty.

There’s catchy but unobtrusive hooks, superb guitar licks and Tom’s paradoxically introspective lyrics. And it sounds organic without the calculated overdubs and tracking. Or perhaps it’s just calculated to be organic. Either way the music is solid.

Opening with “Jefferson Jericho Blues” (historical references in rock songs for 200?) the Heartbreakers keep charging full-speed ahead, Admiral David Farragut style. It’s clear that guitars and whiskey aren’t the only things to get better with age.

There are ample, well-deserved solos in ageless sounding “First Flash Of Freedom” and “Trip to Pirate’s Cove.” Moody and emotional songs on “No Reason to Cry” and “Takin’ My Time” are filled with blues undertones, attesting to Tom’s decade-long study of the genre.  Like most of the TP&HB catalog, these songs are meant to last far longer than a two-week jaunt on Top 40 radio.

“Something Good Coming” perfectly balances between hopeful and sappy with its lyrics like, “I know that look that’s on your face/There’s something lucky about this place/Something good coming for you and me/Something good coming, it has to be.”

Unfortunately, peppered between the greatness are a few tracks that make us scratch our head. “Don’t Pull Me Over” feels much like a watered-down, lyrically void version of Willie Nelson meets Eric Clapton meets Bob Marley with a nasal whine—even if the subject of immigration is timely. We had to check our calendars during “Candy” and “U.S. 41” as the band goes into full-throttle “vintage” mode.

Still, the 15 tracks pull from the spectrum of old-school blues, polished with the modernly-classic, Petty-touch proving that aging gracefully means he can keep his mojo working.

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