REVIEWED BY CHUCK ARNOLD
"It's hard to say/Who you are these days/But you run on anyway/Don't you baby?" So sings Tom Petty on "Saving Grace," the Bo Diddley-esque blues-rocker that is the first single and opening track of his third solo disc. At 55, Petty may not be the rebel he used to be, but he still won't back down, thank you very much. Indeed, in a year marking the 30th anniversary of his first album with the Heartbreakers, the career-revving Highway Companion shows that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is far from ready to quietly ride off into the sunset.
Produced by Petty's Traveling Wilburys bandmate Jeff Lynne, Highway Companion uses travel—mostly on the road—to symbolize the search for one's direction in midlife. On one tune he's nostalgically heading back "Down South"; on another he defiantly demands to "Turn This Car Around." On the CD's highlight, "Square One," a gentle, folky ballad that is surely one of the most beautiful songs Petty has ever written, he finally finds his way back to himself: "It took a world of trouble/It took a world of tears/It took a long time to get back here." Highway Companion is most definitely worth the journey.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Square One"