Southern Accents

Southern Accents

For their sixth studio album, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers opted for a loose concept album about the modern South. (The band’s origin was Florida.) It opened up the group's sound beyond their usual guitar-organ attack. However, by bringing in the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart to produce, The Heartbreakers suddenly had an extra bandmate, as Stewart guided the tracks with a heavy hand and cowrote three of the album’s songs with Petty. The album’s guest list is extensive, including Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel of The Band, singer Maxine Waters, and a brass section. The psychedelic “Don’t Come Around Here No More” became the hit single, while “It Ain’t Nothin’ to Me” sported a modern dance groove. “Rebels,” “Spike,” and “Dogs on the Run” provide the classic rockers. But it’s the ballads, the title track, and “The Best of Everything” that are the most powerful moments and show Petty’s best songwriting. Despite including so many musicians—and a key collaborator in Stewart—this album feels like the first Tom Petty solo set.

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