One Track Mind: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “U Get Me High” (2014)

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There was something visceral, something of tangible release, in the initial blast of knuckle-dragging rock to emerge from Tom Petty’s forthcoming effort Hypnotic Eye.

At the same time, there’s something to be said for the contemplative danger of “U Get Me High,” the latest advance track from an album that promises a return to form after the Heartbreakers detour into blues rock. There remains plenty of edge to this song’s essential riff, and the guitar solo is a thrillingly smeared emotional outburst, but what stands out the most is what’s not there this time.

This isn’t Tom Petty sneering, jeering, sounding like the pissed-off old-man persona that perhaps he has every right to lay claim to. Instead, Petty makes a series of whispered entreaties, running his imagination’s fingers down the shape of a lover’s endlessly fascinating curves — and unleashing the kind of classically sharp wordplay that can’t really be part of a cathartic tantrum like “American Dream Plan B.”

There may those who wondered if Petty could still summon this kind of moment, one that works in such smart juxtaposition between grinding groove and open-hearted reminiscence. “U Get Me High” answers that, and definitively.

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