The Petty Archives

Review: Tom Petty ditches band for trip down the highway
By David Bauder
Laredo Morning Times - Friday, July 28, 2006

For a man that fronts one of the most enduring bands in rock 'n' roll, it's an oddity that two of Tom Petty's finest albums are solo discs -- 1989's "Full Moon Fever" and this one.

"Highway Companion" finds Petty fully focused and delivering some of his most durable melodies in many years. It features only three musicians -- Petty, producer Jeff Lynne and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell -- and the combination forces Petty to keep it musically and lyrically direct.

CD Reviews: Petty dives inward on new album
Review by Jon Pareles
The Island Packet - Friday, July 28, 2006

Tom Petty takes his time between albums, typically about four or five years. That leaves long spells for contemplation and simple aging, and on "Highway Companion" Petty, 55, sounds almost autumnal. He sings in his grainiest, least heroic voice, and in song after song he reflects on time passing by. "You're flirting with time, baby," he sings, "and maybe time, baby, is catching up with you."

By Len Righi
The Morning Call - July 29, 2006

On "Highway Companion," Tom Petty rides shotgun with … himself. Compared to his muscular work with the Heartbreakers, the veteran rocker's third 1solo disc is muted and sparsely produced (by longtime collaborator Jeff Lynne), even with contributions from Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell. But "Highway Companion" goes deeper than most Heartbreakers albums; Petty makes it personal, especially on the first four tracks, which achieve an almost poetic force as he sings about the price of clearing his slate ("Square One"), moving on alone ("Saving Grace") and knowing the the past has only a limited value in facing the future ("Down South"). While the disc may not cover any real new ground musically (except perhaps for a touch of ZZ Top boogie), it is a satisfying accumulation of the influences -- Bob Dylan, the Byrds and Neil Young in particular -- and trademarks that have made Petty and the Heartbreakers a force for 30 years. (And "Ankle Deep" is a knowing nod to The Traveling Wilburys.) Given the humorless, petulant and not very original preaching of 2002's "The Last DJ," "Highway Companion" is a beguiling ride. Hopefully, some of it will turn up on this summer's Heartbreakers tour, which Petty says will be his last with the band.

Rocker Petty writes a wary roam 'Companion'
By Jim DeRogatis
Chicago Sun-Times - July 30, 2006

The title and much of the advance hype for Tom Petty's third solo album -- his first release since the Heartbreakers' controversial, music-industry-bashing "The Last DJ" in 2002 -- promised that these 12 tunes would be the perfect soundtrack for a road trip from a true master of the form: Just think of all those "listenin' to Tom while banging on the steering wheel" scenes in Hollywood films, such as "Jerry Maguire" and "The Silence of the Lambs."

But midway through the disc, in the midst of a psychedelic freak-out during "Turn This Car Around," the artist urges us to "turn this car around -- I'm going back!"

Through the pain, music still Petty's companion
By Greg Kot
Chicago Tribune - July 30, 2006

Coming off a devastating divorce and the death of longtime bandmate Howie Epstein, Tom Petty filters his regrets, recriminations and remorse into 12 deceptively gentle songs on "Highway Companion" (American).

On the 18th album of his career (and third solo disc apart from the Heartbreakers), Petty sings and plays most of the instruments himself with assists from producer Jeff Lynne (the architect of one of his most successful albums, "Full Moon Fever") and Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell.

What's not to like about Tom Petty?
By Shawn Telford
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Monday, July 31, 2006

This essay does not intend to answer the following question but begs the discussion: What is the cultural significance of Tom Petty?

Sixteen Grammy nominations, four Grammy Awards, 15 albums on Billboard's Top 100, 15 singles on Billboard's Hot 100, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, member of the Traveling Wilburys with rock legends Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, accolades and awards too numerous to mention, he stayed cool through the '80s without becoming a novelty and, most important, everyone just loves Petty.

OK, maybe not "love" love. Perhaps it's better to say that no one hates Petty. In fact, his appreciation goes from "Yeah, he's OK" to "I love him," but never "I hate him."

Tom Petty back on track with Highway Companion
By Brian McCollum
The Providence Journal - Monday, July 31, 2006

Tom Petty | Highway Companion | (American Recordings)
Tom Petty’s clunky 2002 album The Last DJ was the sound of a veteran trying too hard. Conceived as an attack on the corporatization of rock ’n’ roll — not an unfamiliar stance for the iconoclastic Petty — it wound up a dry and preachy work, lacking the agile hooks and nuanced humor that have defined the best of his music during a three-decade career.

Highway Companion gets the 55-year-old musician firmly back on track, surely to the relief of the legion of devotees who see Petty as one of the last great hopes for traditional rock. Ruminative but wistful, mellow but not sluggish, the album finds Petty wielding a deft songwriting pen and maturing into his natural role as one of popular music’s wise elder statesmen.

Sizzling sounds
By Ricardo Baca and John Wenzel
The Denver Post - August 1, 2006

Our Top 10 Picks for a summer playlist to cool you off at the pool, the patio and on the road.
Tom Petty, "Square One"
Essential to summer listening is the wistful back porch tune, and Petty comes through here with a song that will have you whistling and reminiscing. Petty doesn't try too hard. It seems like the music just comes out naturally, with effortless lyrics to boot. Its source album is "Highway Companion," but it was also hand-picked by Cameron Crowe months before the full-length's release for Petty's "Elizabethtown," the soundtrack of which was much better than the film itself.

Tom Petty | Highway Companion (American)
By Rob Patterson
Dallas Observer - August 3, 2006

Tom Petty has made some of the most apropos music to ever enhance windshield time, both solo and with the Heartbreakers. But despite its title, Highway Companion isn't exactly that. Instead, his new near-literally solo album--on which Petty plays a full complement of instruments down to the drums, abetted only by co-producers Jeff Lynne and Mike Campbell--bears an ambiance far more suited to wee-hour listening in an easy chair after a few favorite inebriants, feeling more reflective than looking at the road ahead. As a result, Highway Companion isn't as immediately stunning and appealing as Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers, Petty's two previous solo discs, yet it's nearly as seductive after continued spins. Assumedly, Lynne is a factor in this album's Beatle-esque and Brit-pop touches as well as garage rock accents to enhance Petty's American rock, but the spiritual heart of this work is an intimacy of expression by Petty that feels like a friend sharing his deep thoughts and even soul. Yes, travel is the primary skein that threads throughout the songs-- obviously on "Turn This Car Around" and "Night Driver," as well as the chugging opener "Saving Grace" and meditative closer "The Golden Rose"--but the key line here is likely the album's next-to-last verse: "Many a night I would think of her, all alone."