The Petty Archives

Petty's low-key songs carry sharp messages
By J.D. Considine
The Baltimore Sun - July 12, 1991

INTO THE GREAT WIDE OPEN | Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (MCA 40317)
Like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty has one of rock's best deadpans, a drawling, laconic delivery which, on record, seems to carry all the menace of a floating log. But just as floating logs sometimes turn out to be alligators, Petty's seemingly affectless singing can conceal quite a bite. That's certainly the case with "Into the Great Wide Open," his latest with the Heartbreakers. As the album ambles through its mid-tempo ballads and low-key rockers, Petty's sly tunefulness almost lulls the listener into accepting these songs at face value. Listen closely, though, and beneath those amiable melodies lie biting insights into American life, from the raucous "Out In the Cold" to the wry title tune.