PETTY KEEPING HIS PROMISE!
Christopher Gazzo | 07/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Hard Promises" released by Tom Petty in 1981 had the seemingly impossible task of following his 1979 commercial breakthrough "Damn The Torpedoes." What's amazing is that Petty follows up his best work with another classic and finds himself searching deeper with more soul-searching lyrics than before and delivering them with a voice that displays true emotion proving the point that he just may be one of the most underrated singers in rock. Although not as consistent as "Torpedoes," "Promises delivers a punch and wallop that isn't too far behind. Opening with one of Petty's finest moments, "The Waiting" could easily have come off of it's predecessor with it's streamlined, radio ready sound. "A Woman In Love (it's not me) and "Letting You Go" were two minor hits for Petty but no less listenable than any of his major hits. In fact the latter is one of THE most underrated songs in Petty's catalogue. It's one of those songs that when you hear it, you remember it but it's sort of a forgotten gem and one of the best songs of his career.
By this point in his career Petty was proving himself to be just as effective at writing heartfelt country-styled ballads as he was rockers. "You Can Still Change Your Mind" and "Insider" pick up where "Louisiana Rain" left off. "Insider" is a particularly moving ballad with incredible counterpoint vocals from no other than Stevie Nicks. This is quite easily one of his most emotional and poignant songs up to this point and of his career. "Kings Road" and "A Thing About You" are great, fun rockers, the latter bordering close to the generic but Petty was still fresh enough at this stage of the game to keep it from falling into that category. The remaining songs include the humorous tongue in cheek "Nightwatchman" and "The Criminal Kind." "Something Big" showcases the sort of acoustic direction that Petty would explore further in his late 80's and 90's work and right up through his most recent Mudcrutch release. The remastered sound is crystal clear and as usual the dependable Mike Campbell provides the perfect licks where appropriate whether it be a subtle note or the stinging guitar lines in "A Woman In Love."
Tom Petty confirmed with "Hard Promises" that he was no one-hit wonder. If "Damn The Torpedoes" proved that Petty belonged in the big leagues, "Hard Promises" did nothing but confirm that he was here to stay!"