Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, ‘Angel Dream': Album Review
It's difficult to consider any portion of Tom Petty's catalog as objectively unappealing. Even his less-celebrated records include some hidden nuggets.
By his own admission, the period that yielded the songs for 1994's Wildflowers and 1996's Songs and Music From 'She's the One' was his most prolific. And as many songwriters can attest, heartbreak and loss often prompts the best art.
So, it's clear why Petty's estate has chosen to revisit this era again on Angel Dream (Songs and Music From the Motion Picture She's the One), a remixed, remastered and reimagined album of tracks that originally appeared on the 1996 LP with the Heartbreakers.
By the time the '90s arrived, Petty was in his mid 40s but seemed to have lived multiple lifetimes. "One of Life's Little Mysteries," one of four previously unreleased songs on Angel Dream, features Petty dispensing some laid-back, rocking-chair wisdom: "Go to work in the morning, try and make a buck, do everything you're told and you're still out of luck." Bottom line? Life is just too unpredictable for that kind of prudence. "Get yourself a dog, get yourself a cat, watch them chase each other around the laundromat."
Fans of Petty's first band Mudcrutch will find a gem in "Thirteen Days," a breezy J.J. Cale cover that fits right in with the Heartbreakers ethos. (Petty and Cale were once label mates at Shelter Records.) "105 Degrees" offers an opposite turn - thumping rock with an abundance of cymbals and keyboardist Benmont Tench's distinctive organ. And an extended version of "Supernatural Radio" includes ad-libs producer Ryan Ulyate coaxed out during the remixing process.
"French Disconnection" closes the album with a riff on She's the One's "Angel Dream" that merges swiftly into a fuller instrumental take. Even without Petty's voice, the track is still able to convey the tenderness of the song, which was written for his wife.
Three years after Petty's death, Angel Dream, though less expansive than 2020's Wildflowers and All the Rest, arrives like another piece of buried treasure from his archive. It's another glimpse into the world of one of rock's most trusted songwriters.