She's The One

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Warner Brothers, 1996

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


[Adapted from a review that first appeared in On The Town Magazine 9/17/96]
Generating new material has never been a problem for Tom Petty, who reportedly recorded 25 songs for the album prior to She’s The One, his 15-track 1994 solo disc Wildflowers.  If Petty has had a problem in the course of his very successful career, it’s been quality control.  Virtually every album since 1979’s Damn The Torpedoes has veered between flashes of genius and more pedestrian material.

To Petty's credit, he's always willing to try something new (see his mid-80s flirtation with the Southern rock sound, his wall-of-sound days working with Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne, and his 90s fling – including on this album -- with keep-it-simple-stupid producer Rick Rubin). When asked to contribute a song to the soundtrack of the 1996 Jennifer Aniston movie my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 She's The One, he said why not, watched the movie and proceeded to go wild. When he came back with five new songs finished and more on the boards, the powers-that-be at Fox (the movie studio) and Warner (the record company) astonishingly agreed to do the logical albeit unorthodox thing, and make the soundtrack album and Petty's planned new studio album one and the same.

The resulting album finds Petty and the Heartbreakers in fine form, revisiting his snarling, power-chording days on hard-rocking numbers like "Zero From Outer Space." “Zero” and the tart "California" also display the sardonic sense of humor he employs so well. This album looks forward as well as back, though; the influence of Wildflowers, his lightest, most pastoral album to date, is apparent in the beautiful acoustic melodies of "Angel Dream."

Like "Dream," the album's big number, "Walls," is presented here in two different versions, with the "Circus" version (guest starring Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham) winning out with a bouncy, jangly, fiesta feel and shimmering harmonies. Petty also sculpts one of his sharper Beatles homages in "Hung Up And Overdue," appropriately featuring Ringo Starr on drums. Perhaps the most appealing number, though, is the stripped-down, steady-building rocker "Climb That Hill," which offers some choice licks from guitarist Mike Campbell and a lyric clearly inspired by the tangled relationships depicted in the movie.

Finally, it’s worth noting that on this disc Petty curtailed his own songwriting excesses enough to include a pair of clever and distinctive covers, putting the indelible TP/Heartbreakers stamp on both Lucinda Williams’ “Change The Locks” and Beck’s “Asshole.”

She's the One was an unusual chapter in Petty's career, and it’s rather loose and messy in places with its multiple versions of songs and random studio noise between cuts, but those who take a chance on it will more than likely find it worth the risk. It's actually one of his more consistent albums, and a worthy addition to his catalog.

Rating: B

User Rating: B+



© 2008 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.