The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, July 2, 2010, Music

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

Mojo (Reprise)

He may be approaching 60, but Tom Petty appears to be at his most adventurous. Mojo is a natural follow-up to his work with Mudcrutch, Petty's original band that reformed to record its debut in 2008. It's a Southern rock delight that eschews obvious hooks and crowd-pleasing anthems for chunky blues riffs and swampy jams, and all sorts of nonmodern rock touchstones emerge, from the Grateful Dead to the Allman Brothers to Led Zeppelin (or is it the Yardbirds?), even a touch of reggae. Sometimes the subject matter gets confused, as on opener "Jefferson Jericho Blues," which invokes the third president before switching into thoughts of a lost love, or downright silly, like the J.J. Cale-grooved "Candy." Mojo, a reference to the Muddy Waters/Chess Records vibe that informs the album's undercurrents, is likely to separate those that prefer his pop jangle from those that appreciate the Heartbreakers' innate ability to pursue their muse no matter where it takes them. It's slightly indulgent at more than an hour long, but more likely that's just Petty's way of offering love for what his ageless band can do.


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