The Petty Archives

CD Reviews
Review by Greg Quill
Toronto Star - June 14, 2010

TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS | Mojo (Reprise/Warner) | ★★★½ out of 4
After three decades together, it would be easy for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to slide into the greatest hits groove, the way the Eagles have, and to rake in the money, without risking disapproval with new recordings that may or may not live up to their glorious past. But if you're looking for faults you won't find one on this 15-track, 65-minute masterpiece, a worthy addition to the Petty/Heartbreakers canon and a showcase for some of the finest instrumental performances in American roots-rock recording history.

Mojo is eerily retro in spirit but thoroughly and joyfully contemporary in style, thanks largely to Petty's vivid narratives and resonant road yarns and to the stunning confidence exhibited by his band. These rock veterans clearly revel in having all the time they need to stretch out and to display a breathtaking array of musical skills, without wasting a single note, or falling into the pits of vanity and excess.

Each song is a revelation, from the driving opener, "Jefferson Jericho Blues," with its propulsive harp/guitar riff and lyrics that reflect scornfully on Thomas Jefferson's dalliance with one of his female slaves, to the loping, dreamlike "Trip To Pirate's Cove," an unsettling memory of a California road trip, from the vaguely British waltz-time prog-rock of "First Flash of Freedom" to the Muddy Waters-ish "Takin' My Time," with its plaintive observance of the effects of passing years.

It would be hard to find a better road-trip album than Mojo. The combination of relentless forward motion, rear-view reflection and in-the-moment bravado is compelling and infectious.