Nominally a Tom Petty solo album, 1994’s Wildflowers, like Full Moon Fever before it, features performances by most of the Heartbreakers, with only drummer Stan Lynch absent. Producer Rick Rubin provides a nice contrast to the previous two albums’ frequently suffocating Jeff Lynne production, allowing these largely acoustic songs the breathing room they require. It is easy to view Wildflowers as Petty’s “middle-aged” album, but the wistful, unadorned sound of the album belies its surprisingly dark and dolorous lyrical content. Again, timing was propitious for Petty: released at the height of grunge and accompanied by the fawning endorsements of alt-rock demigods like Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl, Wildflowers found an unlikely audience of Generation Xers who would no sooner give the time of day to Bob Seger or John Mellencamp than they would Perry Como. Recorded over a two-year period at the famed Sound City Studios (the same facility that produced Damn The Torpedoes), Wildflowers finds Petty at something of a late-blooming songwriting peak. The casually sublime title track, reputedly done in one take, is plainly one of Petty’s greatest triumphs as a solo artist; “A Higher Place” out-Marshall Crenshaws Marshall Crenshaw; and the English folk ballad-influenced “Don’t Fade On Me” finds Petty refreshingly out of his comfort zone. Elsewhere, there’s the drawling power pop of “You Wreck Me” and “House In The Woods,” the locomotive survivor’s tale of “Time To Move On,” and lead single “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” whose Brobdingnagian drums, underachiever guitar solo, and airy minimalism perfectly encapsulates the album’s mellow, bucolic tableau.