Album Review: “Wildflowers” By Tom Petty
Tom Petty's Super Bowl Halftime show - NFL / YouTube
Most people know Tom Petty as the reserved rocker who brought classic rock staples to the world with faultless purpose. Petty’s unfailing energy was infused his creations, making him one of the most prominent classic rock artists of all time. But amidst all the traditional formulas Petty has applied to his songwriting, he rose up to the occassion with the release of Wildflowers. Petty does away with his usual cup of coffee for a more stronger, resounding blend that digs deep into the human instinct of reflection.
Wildflowers uses contrasting themes of hope and despair, with the title track evoking the spirit of “Here Comes The Sun” perfectly with its bright and jangly instrumentation, an emotion so pure one would be infected with it upon listening. “You Don’t Know How It Feels” is a head-bopping track that unexpectedly brings in themes of loneliness to the mix. Petty gives you comfort while hurting you at the same time with “It’s Only A Broken Heart” and “Crawling Back To You” like he knows the duality of emotion like the back of his hand. Another personal attack to decadent lifestyles is the track “Wake Up Time”, which immediately energizes the listener with its rich melodic arrangement, bringing the message that not all hope is lost.
“Honey Bee” is a typical Petty classic rocker to get the drive on, while “Don’t Fade On Me” takes on a roots approach with its haunting quality. “Cabin Down Below” is a landslide of a track, invigorating the complacency of the spirit acquired by listening to the earlier tracks with its boiling progression. “It’s Good To Be King” has Petty being true, not just to anyone else, but himself. The self-deprecating approach of the track is paired with another misleading, catchy arrangement that has the best of us confused.
Wildflowers is the epitome of Petty’s songwriting maturation, being able to see the good and the bad, and not being afraid to put them together in a semblance of reality. He doesn’t feel the need to coat the bitterness of the themes here with edgy rocking arrangements, and instead opts for acoustic and bare instrumentation to lightly dust the maturity of the subject. We see Tom Petty in his unrestrained form clearly resonating from the bowels of Wildflowers.