Tom Petty turned sixty last fall and still hasn’t given up an inch of his badassery for a softer approach. The eleven songs on Hypnotic Eye fill up the room with the swagger of his classic rock choruses, Mike Campbell’s gritty guitar and Ron Blair’s brewing bass looming behind him the entire time.
Maybe the most enduring thing about Tom Petty’s music is its down-home, common man sympathies. On “American Dream Part B” Petty sings with resilient naivete: “Like a fool I’m betting on happiness/I’ve got a dream I’m gonna fight till I get it”. Less forgiving, ”Burnt Out Town” (which could easily be a Bob Dylan song) is a weary blues critique of corruption and neglect, while “Shadow People” shows hints of sad regret for the situation. On “Power Drunk”, Petty notes that you “pin on a badge and a man begins to change/starts believing that there’s nothing out of his range”, which serves as a fresh reminder in light of the recent police brutality cases.
For all of Tom Petty’s desolateness in “Faultlines” (as with “Forgotten Man”), the rest of the band seems to be having a lot of fun; the bass swerves around an anxious Steve Ferrone and Cambell’s guitar goes from a chunky solo to a spy movie riff. “Fullgrown Boy” (as opposed to full grown man?) has a smooth jazz feel, a marriage between uncesasing guitar and ripples of piano. The love songs get a mood swing as the anguished moans of “Sins of My Youth” turn into into blissful longing on “U Get Me High”.
Bless Tom’s rugged little heart-everything he does sounds classic.