Highway Companion, Tom Petty''s third solo album and first in a dozen years, is a timeless album about the passing of time. A constant companion on the road of rock n'' roll, Petty, says Rolling Stone, is "rock aristocracy".
Four years after he took Elvis Costello''s advice and bit the music/radio biz hands that have simultaneously fed and frustrated him for decades on the scabrous The Last DJ, Tom Petty returned to the studio with more personally introspective matters on his mind. Reuniting with producer/Wilbury sideman Jeff Lynne sans Heartbreakers for his third solo release proper, the veteran doesn''t so much retool his trademark sound here as allow it the freedom to roam. The sonic landscape here is bluesier ("Saving Grace''s opening shuffle, the haunting "Turn This Car Around") and more country-fried (the twangy energy of the blue collar lament "Big Weekend"), a return to familiar roots that produces subtly different results this time around. That sensibility now seasons songs as different as the stoned-elegant languor of "Night Driver" and the playful "Jack," where Petty and Lynn give a knowing nod and wink to the contemporary pop milieu. The stately, pop-perfect closer "Golden Rose" may lean on the Beatle-y side of their familiar sound, but it''s a cliché the duo use both sparingly and shrewdly throughout, forging one of the veteran''s most free-ranging and warmly satisfying efforts in a decade. Jerry McCulley
Recommended Tom Petty Discography
The Last DJ
Anthology: Through the Years
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