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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

Petty Proves He's the One for a Little Humor, Poignancy

***, TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS, "Songs and Music From the Motion Picture 'She's the One' ", Warner Bros.

August 04, 1996|Elysa Gardner

Hot young film director Ed Burns ("The Brothers McMullen") chose wisely in tapping Petty to contribute the soundtrack for his new romantic comedy. In addition to being one of the more enduringly hip musicians of his generation, Petty is among rock's most underrated lyricists, particularly when it comes to writing about relationships. On these new songs, his flair for balancing wry humor with understated poignancy and subtle self-awareness is once again at the fore.

Working with his band and producer Rick Rubin--the same team that appeared on his last studio effort, 1994's "Wildflowers"--Petty has put together a collection of lyrical, atmospheric tunes that range from sweet, acoustic ballads to moody, mid-tempo rockers. When the singer openly celebrates a lover, as he does on the lovely, string-laced "Angel Dream (No. 4)," his lack of affectation is extremely affecting. When he lashes out, his venom is, as usual, mitigated by self-deprecating irony. Even on the deliciously spiteful "Change the Locks," Petty doesn't resort to glib cynicism. He'd rather just acknowledge his failings with a chuckle and a sigh. And seriously, folks, that's a pretty rare virtue.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

* TimesLine 808-8463

To hear excerpts from the albums reviewed, call TimesLine and press * and the artist's corresponding four-digit code. Tom Petty *5710

In 805 area code, call (818) 808-8463.

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