Troy Petty Presents New Single ‘Alonetown’

Troy Petty’s single, “Alonetown,” is a dramatic piece of music. It is a full 4:27 of powerfully emotive sound.

The song begins dramatically with ten seconds of spoken word content, before the track’s instrumental parts set in. These come in quietly, with Petty singing gently over subtle piano instrumentation. This same hushed performance lasts for about a full minute, which is a daring thing for a songwriter to do. Radio guys will tell you that you need to hit the audience with a tangible hook, both quickly and hard. Petty doesn’t do this, though, as he allows his song to grow deliberately, as it builds up its dramatic elements.

Lyrically, “Alonetown” sounds to be a kind of empathetic view of a lonely person. It’s not clear whether this is someone close to Petty, someone he’s observed, or a composite of those he’s seen wandering heartless city streets. It matters not because we feel for this person immediately.

After a minute of tentative sonics, the song changes gears with a loud, clashing approach. At the same time, Petty’s voice goes from a whisper to (nearly) as scream, as he sings out these lyrics quite theatrically. Along with the well-orchestrated backing music, an equally expressive electric guitar solo chimes in at about the minute-and-a-quarter mark. It’s a melodic solo, however. Not that all guitar solos are not melodic, but this one is played in a way that every note counts and has meaning. It’s certainly not a speedy, show-off-y kind of instrumental part, where the player wants any and all to know just how fast he/she can play. No, in this instance, these plucked notes are intended solely to serve the song and push the tune forward toward its emotional peak.

This is the kind of solo bands like The Alarm and U2 used to fill their songs with, early in their careers. The guitar was used as another voice. Not a vocal, but a six-string manner of putting an exclamation point on the singer’s words.

TIKTOK: @troypettymusic

After this big guitar part, Petty’s voice gets quiet again, singing over an equally low volume guitar part. This section is brief, as Petty once again turns up the volume and intensity. In many respects, this single is like some of Meatloaf’s biggest hit songs. It has the feel of theater, as much as rock & roll. Petty is using rock dynamics to set an urban scene. While doing so, he is fully invested in it. Like another famous rocker, Bruce Springsteen, his music is meant to reach right for your heart and bring out immediate feelings. He’s successful at this because it’s impossible to listen to “Alonetown” without feeling somewhat emotional. Even so, it’s not 100% clear what Petty is attempting to make us feel. He doesn’t completely spell out a story, one which has a beginning, middle and end. Instead, it’s almost as though he throws us right into the middle of it, where we may feel a little disoriented until we figure out what he’s trying to say.

It’s always rewarding when an artist is this ambitious. Troy Petty has created a mini world with “Alonetown,” which is a song you cannot forget.

-Dan MacIntosh