Paul Kelly – Spring & Fall (review)

Paul Kelly – Spring and Fall (Gawd Aggie) review

An underrated artist keeps getting better

Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly has just released his 19th studio album, Spring and Fall, and it very well could be his finest work to date.  The eleven songs explore many different angles on human relationships (hence the title of the disc) – from blossoming love (“New Found Year”), the good times (“For the Ages”), to disharmony (“Sometimes My Baby”), and eventual breakup (“None of Your Business Now”).  The fact that the same songwriter composed the exquisite “When a Woman Loves a Man” (one of his greatest compositions to date), and the icy “Cold as Canada,” shows the incredible range of his talent.

Kelly’s gift is his ability to write eloquent songs in very few words, giving the impression that they were created effortlessly.  His clear, but humble approach to singing, and gentle, mostly acoustic accompaniment, wraps these tracks, giving them a warm, lived-in feel.  Take, for instance, “Little Aches and Pains” – something we all can relate to as we get older.  Yet, it comes off as more of a conversation than a song.

Although, everything here is acoustic-based, there’s just enough variety in instrumentation to keep things interesting – the dobro on “When a Woman Loves a Man,” the jaw harp on “Sometimes My Baby,” the heavy breathing on “None of Your Business.”   And Dan Kelly’s baritone, Vibroed guitar adds further personality to the tracks.  There is a bonus/hidden track (something you don’t see too much anymore!) at the end of track eleven – “O Mistress Mine,” a Shakespeare composition put to music, from his Twelfth Night play.

The cover painting of a man and woman in a passionate embrace, further adds to the mood of the songs within (although, in reading the liner notes, the painter remains unknown).

Rock music is mostly performed, and is about, youth.  58-year old Paul Kelly proves that some artists do get better with age.  One of the finest albums of 2012.  –Tony Peters