You Need to Know

There are a handful of musicians (or groups of them) whose albums I buy sight unseen and sound unheard. They could put out a collection of melodic armpit farts and I’d still line up for my copy on the release date.

One of them is Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Here’s the really good news: Mojo, out today, is the best album TP has recorded since the 1980s. It won’t be a classic-rock hit parade like Damn the Torpedoes, but it has a few first-rate songs and is strong from start to end. It reminds me of Southern Accents–not because it shares that album’s self-conscious ambition, but for its easy embrace of a bluesy regional heritage plus a willingness to experiment with new forms. There’s a reggae song on it, for crying out loud. For the most part, though, Mojo sounds like a 21st-century band recording a 1970s southern rock album. My first impression is a good one and I have a feeling that it’s going to grow on me.

John J. Miller — John J. Miller is the national correspondent for National Review and the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. His new book is Reading Around: Journalism on Authors, Artists, and Ideas.

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