Album review

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, ‘Mojo’

June 14, 2010

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The word “blues’’ has been bandied about in advance of the release of “Mojo,’’ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 12th album; but anyone expecting Howlin’ Wolf covers or knockoffs has arrived at the wrong crossroads. While 12-bar twang, mean girls, and swampy harmonicas do populate the track list, “Mojo’’ is a rock record — and a good one at that. The blooze-rock of Petty’s English heroes (the stomp of “I Should Have Known It’’) comes through as clearly as the stately strut of folks like John Lee Hooker (“Takin’ My Time’’); but his roots-rock default is the source of many of the album’s sturdiest tracks — including the bittersweet “No Reason to Cry’’ and the hot flash of “Running Man’s Bible,’’ a succinct summation of life’s trials, oddities, and joys. The band also stretches out with a couple of psychedelic sidetrips including the shambolic, nearly seven-minute jam “First Flash of Freedom’’ and even works its way through the reggae romp “Don’t Pull Me Over.’’ On the cusp of 60, Petty wears his elder statesman mantle well, and the Heartbreakers continue to pull off the feat of sounding simultaneously loose and tight. (Out tomorrow) -- SARAH RODMAN

ESSENTIAL “I Should Have Known It’’

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers play the Comcast Center Aug. 19 and 21.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Mojo