Friday, March 13, 2020

Paul Kelly, Paul Kelly's Greatest Hits: Songs From The South 1985 - 2019, 2020

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

Paul Kelly's Greatest Hits: Songs From The South 1985 - 2019 is a collection of songs that chart Kelly's remarkable journey through pop, rock, folk, bluegrass, and story songs and ends up with a sound that fans of his music have come to love. The album is available as a two-CD set with 43 tracks and a double LP with 26 songs.

The first CD begins with the joyous jangle of "From St. Kilda To Kings Cross" from 1985 and 1986's "Before Too Long." When listening to these songs it's hard not to think of fellow Australians The Go-Betweens and the songs of Grant McLennan who were making similar music at the same time. Also from 1986's Gossip and 1987's Under the Sun are the rockers "Darling It Hurts" and "Dumb Things" that show Kelly may have been listening to other Australian bands like Hoodoo Gurus.

The live acoustic versions of "Everything's Turning to White" originally from 1989's So Much Water So Close To Home and 2010's "When I First Met Your Ma" on Songs From The South make it clear that Kelly, with simply an acoustic guitar and his voice, has no problem holding an audience.

"From Little Things Big Things Grow" from Comedy has Kelly making use of Bob Dylan's basic tools of acoustic guitar and harmonica (with some banjo thrown in for good measure) to tell stories about his native Australia. Comedy's "Winter Coat" is a grand yet sad tale of an item of clothing that brings back memories of a lost love.

The bluegrass gem "Our Sunshine" from Smoke kicks off the second CD. The live version of "Every Fucking City" is a delight and details missed opportunities.

The simple and lovely "If I Could Start Today Again" from 2001's …Nothing But A Dream is a request for another chance to save a relationship. And "The Oldest Story In The Book" is a finger-picking charmer of a story song. 

"You're 39, You're Beautiful and You're Mine" (an updated, in more ways than one, of Johnny Burnette's "You're Sixteen") is a wonderful ode to a woman who continues to dazzle and sounds like a perfect fit for a 60s Nashville crooner with its tinkling piano in the mix. And on "Sonnet 18" from Kelly's Seven Sonnets & A Song, he uses Shakespeare's words and a bluegrass template to compare his love to a summer's day.

Long-time fans of Kelly's will be happy to know the compilation includes his Christmas song "How To Make Gravy." This song is so popular in Australia that the country has made December 21st (a date mentioned in the song) a national Gravy Day. Songs from the South also includes "Every Day My Mother's Voice" from 2019 and the previously unreleased "When We're Both Old & Mad," a marvelous duet with fellow Australian treasure Kasey Chambers.

Paul Kelly's Greatest Hits: Songs From The South 1985 - 2019 is out now on Gawd Aggie / Cooking Vinyl.

No comments :

Post a Comment