Tom Petty Comes Back Home

Austin Chronicle | October 7, 2006
For 30 years, Tom Petty has been quietly gluing himself to the American landscape, his fingers strumming an old, beat-up Dove acoustic, his voice wavering just enough. His effortless sound melded over decades of blacktop and arenas, a mirage of laughter and tears married with a sense of undying hope. Petty’s third solo album and 13th overall is a glimpse into the soul of a musicman. More introspective than anything he’s ever released, Highway Companion flirts with fortitude, contentment, and the passing of time. With old friends Mike Campbell and Jeff Lynne at his side, Petty shines true on “Flirting With Time,” a warning to all who deem themselves invincible. The eerie-sweet maturity grows with “Down South.” A child of the Deep South, Petty’s simple familiarity crosses over into all facets of his songwriting: “Big Weekend” is nothing if not a head-nodder; “Night Driver” creates a color-hued image of a lonely man; and “Damaged by Love” is classic Petty – dusty, dented, and forgiving. Songs of love and loss scurry alongside acceptance and revelation. With the lone rocker opening the album – an instantly recognizable “Saving Grace” – Petty has garnered up both the wisdom and the respite to drop all caution. The feeling that this is the real Petty – no gimmicks, no show, no top hat – resounds. And with three decades under his belt and a willingness to cut out a bit of the road warrior role, he has become completely interwoven into the American fabric. With Highway Companion, Petty has finally come back home.

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