Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye (Reprise)
When it comes to heartland rock, Tom Petty has always been overshadowed by Bruce Springsteen’s considerable shadow. And while the Boss has been looked at as the gold standard, Petty and his Heartbreakers have quietly built up quite the jaw-dropping canon. With the release of this, the 13th studio outing by the native Floridian and his crew, it’s clear the creative fires continue to burn bright for this sexagenarian rocker.
While the 2010 predecessor Mojo drew its inspiration from the blues, this 11-song outing finds Petty going back to the leaner and harder-rocking approach of his early albums as he’s alluded to in a number of interviews. Guitarist Mike Campbell is in fine fettle, whether he’s pumping a Stonesian strut into “U Get Me High” while leaving enough room for some Crazy Horse-like phrasing, jacking up the fuzz-guitar on the relentless “Fault Lines” or taking his foot off the pedal long enough to add some subtle nuances to the delicate shuffle “Full Grown Boy.”
Lyrically, Petty sings “Now you see him against the sky/Believing his own lies” with a laconic J.J. Cale-ish flair on “Power Drunk,” uses a loping Chicago blues cadence to observe “New emperor, same clothes/They’re dancing on glass ceilings? While the filthy money flows” on the quasi rollicking “Burnt Out Town” and even looks in the mirror to say “Well I feel like a four-letter word” on the tremelo-fueled rocker “Forgotten Man.” Petty winds up showing there’s plenty of fight left in one of rock and roll’s occasionally overlooked elder statesmen.