As if to prove that 2008’s debut album, 33 years after they split and effectively evolved into Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, wasn’t just a whim, Mudcrutch deliver another sweetly serviceable offering. While it can’t match the last, extremely impressive Heartbreakers set, Hypnotic Eye, it’s a strong country-rock presentation from what’s not quite the sultan of side projects but rather more than Petty’s return-to-roots Tin Machine.
Opening amiably with the mid-tempo Trailer, in which Tom recalls youthful days spent dancing to Lynyrd Skynyrd in a mobile home, the album’s warm and welcoming. Guitars ring and Petty’s distinctive sneer is crisply committed. Dreams Of Flying brings that Damn The Torpedoes feel while echoing Counting Crows’ Mr Jones, and Beautiful Blue has a gorgeous slo-mo lilt, redolent of David Gilmour in its washes and slides. Beautiful World winks at us with those descending chords The Strokes ripped off early Petty albums.
There’s a slight tail-off into country corn halfway through, and it’s hard to deny the seven Petty compositions are superior to those of his lifelong mates. Mudcrutch chime with sweet conviction, however, and you’d hazard a guess the label wish Petty would release these sterling sidebars under the better-known brand name.