By Jim Farber
Updated July 25, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Droge: Tim Jackson/

His shaky vocals and laconic way with lyrics are uncannily like Tom Petty’s. Yet Droge’s melodies and observations are all his own. On his fourth solo album, Skywatching, the Seattle-based alt-rocker goes for his most scaled-down and homey sound to date. He still writes the sweet pop tunes that gave him his cult hit — 1994’s ”If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Kill Myself).” But now everything seems closer and, as a result, has more consequence.