Travels With Tom
Highway Companion, Tom Pettyâ€šÃ„Ã´s third solo album, is such a majestic, relevant work that itâ€šÃ„Ã´s hard to believe heâ€šÃ„Ã´s been in the game 30 years. Working with just fellow Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, Petty turns in some of the best work of his career, not to mention one of the best albums of 2006.On Highway Companion, Petty sings about aging, using traveling as a metaphor and with copious references to time throughout. As such, the songs are introspective and quieter, with occasional anger, as well as a sense of melancholy which is sad but not necessarily depressing.
The travelers on Highway Companion also go from one point to another without a plan; a step forward as in â€šÃ„ÃºDown Southâ€šÃ„Ã¹ can be negated by doubt, as in the aptly named â€šÃ„ÃºTurn This Car Around.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Both songs represent another dichotomy on the album: the light of acceptance versus the dark of uncertainty.
The album opens with the lean, mean guitar of the boogie/bluesy â€šÃ„ÃºSaving Grace,â€šÃ„Ã¹ about how people sometimes move forward aimlessly, then segues into the simple, lovely melody on â€šÃ„ÃºSquare One,â€šÃ„Ã¹ about returning to oneâ€šÃ„Ã´s origins. The blues play a big part in other songs, including the sinister vibe of both â€šÃ„ÃºJackâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºThis Old Town.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Elsewhere, Petty employs old-time rock â€šÃ„Ã²nâ€šÃ„Ã´ roll, as with the infectious â€šÃ„ÃºFlirting With Time,â€šÃ„Ã¹ the fun â€šÃ„ÃºBig Weekend,â€šÃ„Ã¹ or the peppy-yet-sad â€šÃ„ÃºAnkle Deep.â€šÃ„Ã¹
Besides Pettyâ€šÃ„Ã´s great music, his lyrics remain top-notch, whether heâ€šÃ„Ã´s being clever (â€šÃ„ÃºTook all winter to get through the summerâ€šÃ„Ã¹ from â€šÃ„ÃºAnkle Deepâ€šÃ„Ã¹) or poignant (â€šÃ„ÃºShould be more to learn from this / Canâ€šÃ„Ã´t say I know what it isâ€šÃ„Ã¹ from â€šÃ„ÃºFlirting With Timeâ€šÃ„Ã¹).
Not only does Highway Companion prove that Tom Petty is still an important songwriter, singer and musician, but also that heâ€šÃ„Ã´s a master rock â€šÃ„Ã²nâ€šÃ„Ã´ roller who creates superior albums of stunning beauty, depth, and magnificence. As such a masterwork, Highway Companion is destined to be on many Top 10 lists at the end of 2006.