Sounds: Tom Petty is showing his age on new disc
Review by Rod Lockwood
Toledo Blade — Sunday, August 6, 2006
Highway Companion | Tom Petty (American)
This isn’t meant as an insult, just an observation that’s relevant to Tom Petty’s new solo disc:
He’s getting old.
Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but there’s a weariness to Petty’s most recent solo album that creeps in between the lines, the sound of a 55-year-old man who’s looking back rather than forward. With the Heartbreakers, Petty was always most comparable to Bruce Springsteen in terms of investing a jangly intensity to his work, but now he’s a lot closer to Neil Young circa “Prairie Wind” — a little creaky in the joints and tired around the eyes.
That’s not to say that “Highway Companion” lacks energy or that it’s bad. But it’s a quiet, introspective disc for the most part, with just Petty, Heartbreaker guitarist Mike Campbell, and buddy Jeff Lynne providing all the instrumentation.
Even when the tempo picks up on tracks like “Flirting With Time” or “Big Weekend” (the latter with its refrain, “If you don’t run, you rust” paraphrasing Young) it feels more like the Traveling Wilburys than a full-bodied arena rock band.
The arrangements are skeletal and the lyrics have an overall melancholy feel that contributes to the ennui that seems to be settling into a man who’s deep into middle age.