Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Hypnotic Eye (Reprise Records)
In interviews, singer-guitarist Tom Petty has described this new album as a return to the sound he and his classic rock act cultivated in the early days (the tracks "Forgotten Man" and "Shadow People" even sound like something he might have recorded in the '70s). That's apparent right from the start of the album as the group launches into the nasty blues number "American Dream Plan B." "Fault Lines," another garage blues number, benefits from a thick bass riff and a noisy guitar riff that makes it sound like something from the Black Keys or Jack White. "Power Drunk" is a slow burner that finds Petty whispering his vocals with a muted intensity. He also mellows out for ballads such as "Red River" and "Full Grown Boy," but this is a hard-driving album that allows Petty to reclaim his relevance. That won't come as news to anyone who's seen the man and his band play live in the past decade, but it might surprise younger listeners who think he's a relic.