“Mojo,” while retaining that original sound, also shows just how seasoned these guys are. No other group today, in my opinion, could have made an album like this, but then again they’ve had more than 30 years to perfect their craft.
Going back in time with this one, they have channeled the voices and the soulful tunes of the blues music that permeated throughout the Jim Crow South.
Today, with the economic recession plaguing the lives and checkbooks of millions of Americans everywhere, “Mojo” speaks to the current generation with the wisdom of generations past.
This kind of music isn’t being made anymore, at least not by new artists. It would, however, take a guy who’s almost 60 and a band that has been around as long as the Heartbreakers to pull it off.
With songs like “High in Morning” (about a young man’s battle with alcohol), Petty sings in a smooth, mournful voice of another era about the timeless struggles of mankind.
These lyrics are deep. They are moving. They are powerful today, for the same reasons they were decades before.
Petty and the band, loyal to their rock-n-roll roots, have managed to create a sound that goes a step (or, maybe two) beyond both rock and blues. What you hear in this album isn’t like Zeppelin rock, nor is it like B.B. King blues.
Some of the main pillars of traditional blues music—alcohol, religious conviction and internal conflict between doing what feels good and doing what’s right—are found in these songs. “Boy that woman belongs to the captain. Better let her go her way….”
Songs like “Lover’s Touch” and “Something Good Coming” possess more substance within their first few lines than most today have in their entirety.
Just like old blues songs, the lyrics can be interpreted in different ways. Don’t be so lazy as to neglect their significance.
No, Petty was never a black man in the South, nor has he ever done work on a railroad. He’s nearly 60 and probably has more money than he knows what to do with.
Not to mention he’s the lead singer and bass guitarist of one of the oldest and most famous rock groups still performing and producing new material.
Despite him not personally experiencing some of the tragedies of his songs, you still get a sense that, somehow, he just knows.