The Petty Archives

Petty Proves He's the One for a Little Humor, Poignancy
By Elysa Gardner
The Los Angeles Times -- August 4, 1996

★★★ | TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS | "Songs and Music From the Motion Picture 'She's the One'" | Warner Bros.
Hot young film director Ed Burns ("The Brothers McMullen") chose wisely in tapping Petty to contribute the soundtrack for his new romantic comedy. In addition to being one of the more enduringly hip musicians of his generation, Petty is among rock's most underrated lyricists, particularly when it comes to writing about relationships. On these new songs, his flair for balancing wry humor with understated poignancy and subtle self-awareness is once again at the fore.

Working with his band and producer Rick Rubin--the same team that appeared on his last studio effort, 1994's "Wildflowers" -- Petty has put together a collection of lyrical, atmospheric tunes that range from sweet, acoustic ballads to moody, mid-tempo rockers. When the singer openly celebrates a lover, as he does on the lovely, string-laced "Angel Dream (No. 4)," his lack of affectation is extremely affecting. When he lashes out, his venom is, as usual, mitigated by self-deprecating irony. Even on the deliciously spiteful "Change the Locks," Petty doesn't resort to glib cynicism. He'd rather just acknowledge his failings with a chuckle and a sigh. And seriously, folks, that's a pretty rare virtue.