Mudcrutch – Mudcrutch

It’s not that often a debut album comes out more than 30 years after a band came into being. Much less after said band has partly broken up and partly metamorphosed into something far more successful which has had several decades’ of fame in its own right. But as well as his Heartbreakers, Tom Petty now has as reformed Mudcrutch to tour with. His reason for the self titled album and bringing the band back together is straightforward enough: “I guess I started thinking that we left some music back there, and it was time to go and get it”. Though a couple of tracks are sung by other band members, it’s primarily a Tom Petty vehicle, most obviously in the single Scare Easy, and the essence of the record itself is just as simple as its genesis. There’s a couple of rollicking old-timey folk tunes in Shady Grove and June Apple, and a two more modern covers: the archetypal truck driver’s ballad Six Days On The Road (a hit for Dave Dudley in 1963) and The Byrds’ Lover Of The Bayou, while a different sixties vibe permeates Crystal River, with its gentle six-minute proto-prog wig out and sitar-style guitar.

But it’s a later spin on traditional American country that dominates the album, from the acoustic House of Stone to the electrified Orphan Of The Storm. Topanga Cowgirl sounds like an Eagles number in more than a titular way, and Queen Of The Go Go Girls is equally spry despite opening with the classic honky tonk line “Darlin’ you know I’m leavin’ in the mornin’ And its true I might not be comin’ back”.

For the sake of present day comparisons, Bootleg Flyer could be a Kings of Leon track, courtesy of pokerfaced vocals and burbling bluesy guitar, and This Is A Good Street has the backyard brashness of The Hardest Button To Button. And like The White Stripes’ purist approach to a stripped-down retro sound, the album proudly boasts being “Recorded live, vocals, harmony, everything. Arrangements done on the studio floor. Made in 10 days, no headphones”. Distilling more than three decades of friendship and musical experience in less than two weeks sounds gruelling, but it has produced an easygoing album.

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