Album: Mudcrutch 2
Release Date: 05/20/2016
This is a much more polished effort than the first Mudcrutch release from 2008. While that one felt like a bunch of close friends jamming and having fun with new songs and covers, this is a tightly organized project with songwriting contributions from all five members. Tom Petty, playing bass, writing and singing seven of the eleven songs, clearly comes across as the bandleader. The other members, keyboardist Benmont Tench, guitarists Mike Campbell and Tom Leadon and drummer Randall Marsh each contribute a tune and take a lead vocal turn.
The opener, “Trailer,” sets the tone with swampy Heartbreakers-like attack with Petty’s unmistakably strong voice and as it turns out, the tune is an outtake from the Southern Accents album. The rest are all original tunes, many of which take on a country-rock kind of flavor, favored by Leadon, brother of the Eagles’ guitarist Bernie Leadon. Acclaimed banjo player Herb Petersen gives “The Other Side of the Mountain” a distinctive country feel. Benmont Tench puts down a rave-up boogie on “Welcome to Hell” and Mike Campbell brings it up several more notches on “Victim of Circumstance.” The best three song sequence on the record is “Beautiful Blue” accented by Tench’s piano and guest Josh Jove’s pedal steel, Marsh’s “Beautiful World” which hearkens back to the glory days of AM radio, and “I Forgive It All” by Petty, which has slow, seductive, melodic hooks.
Like the first record, some of the casual atmosphere seeps in but these guys execute with vitality and vigor befitting a band half their age. The variety in tempos and tone keeps it interesting. Though it’s much better than its predecessor, it’s not exceptional as a few songs drag on and others are a little too predictable. Nonetheless, it’s a good one for your car’s CD player. It makes for some fine traveling music that will keep you smiling.
– Jim Hynes