New Music Releases
Review by John Priest
Truman State University Index — Sunday, August 20, 2006
Tom Petty | Highway Companion | American Records | July 25 | 2/5
As Tom Petty’s third solo album and first in a dozen years, “Highway Companion” hopes to be an album reflective of the passage of time, commemorating his 35-year career and recent induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
“Companion” is the Tom Petty show. He wrote the songs, plays the drums, plays the guitar and sings. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, but too much of a bad thing is always a bad thing.
Hoping to capitalize on Neil Young’s success with country-rock, Petty abandons his road map for success, trading breezy pop hooks for complex and overly ambitious lyrics.
The first song, “Saving Grace,” shows promise, but the rest of the album passes in a blur of obscurity. “Highway Companion” makes a road trip of musical influence, sampling Seattle’s indie revolution, Alabama’s southern twang and California’s sun-bleached acoustical numbers.
But the rest of the album is all downhill. One could ignore the lyrics if all musical arrangements weren’t stripped bare, directing the listener’s focus only to Petty’s nonsense lyrics and nasal vocals. He should go back to his roots and stop trying to be deep.
After 35 years, Petty has proven that practice doesn’t always make perfect.