Pick of the Political Pops: Paul Kelly “Little Kings”

King of the Pops Mr Villers is currently away holidaying while observing social distancing in his back garden, and while his normal eloquence will return next week, in his absence we briefly turn to Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly who has featured in more than one of our writers’ best americana albums of all time lists which we have been publishing in recent months. His ‘Words and Music’ album from 1998 begins with the line: “I’m so afraid for my country, There’s an ill wind blowing no good, So many lies in the name of history” which feels like as good a description of how many people are feeling this year for all kinds of different reasons, not all of them Covid-related. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Paul Kelly “Little Kings””

AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Jim Finnie

Welcome once again to AUK’s perilous expedition to identify the top 10 americana albums of all time. The process has generated some debate along the way, most recently concerning what actually constitutes ‘americana’. As far as this series is concerned, that has been left to individual writers to determine. No ground rules or parameters have been set other than the editor and myself reserving the right to ask writers to reconsider if we think that they have gone completely off course. So far, despite checking with each other about a couple of selections, everything has gone through without interference. However, just in case someone decides to chuck in a Pere Ubu album (as good as they are), we still reserve that right. Luckily this week’s AUK writer Jim Finnie, has thrown no such spanners into the works. I’m also delighted to see that his number one choice has finally been recognised in these lists. Over to you Jim…. Continue reading “AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Jim Finnie”

AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Guy Lincoln

At AUK we are on a quest to find the ‘top 10 americana albums ever’. Over the last few months our writers have been going through an internal monologue of constant torment in trying to narrow the whole history of americana down to just ten albums. When every writer has had their say, a shortlist of the most frequently chosen albums will be drawn up and voted on, in order to generate the definitive AUK writers top ten. After a brief summer hiatus, we are back with an eclectic list from AUK writer Guy Lincoln. Continue reading “AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Guy Lincoln”

Interview – Paul Kelly: “We are all incredibly interconnected”

Paul Kelly is an Australian institution and one whose reputation is still building within the americana community thanks to his way with a good old fashioned song – it’s not for nothing that he’s been described as the poet laureate of Australian music. For his latest endeavour, he’s joined forces with pianist and composer Paul Grabowsky for a new album ‘Please Leave Your Light On’ which includes new interpretations of some of his best-known songs, with some left-field twists and turns along the way. Mark Whitfield caught up with him about the new record, his take on the concept of genres, and how along with the rest of us he’s stayed sane over past few months. Continue reading “Interview – Paul Kelly: “We are all incredibly interconnected””

Paul Kelly/Paul Grabowski “Please Leave Your Light On” (Cooking Vinyl, 2020)

When AUK reviewed Paul Kelly’s recent retrospective collection, ‘Songs From The South’, we remarked on Kelly’s magpie like ability to gather up elements from power pop, folk, rock, bluegrass, soul and country over a prolific career allowing him to be considered as Australia’s foremost singer songwriter. ‘Please Leave Your Light On’ however is a bit of a curveball as Kelly teams up with jazz pianist Paul Grabowski (a fellow Australian) for a set of intimate voice and piano duets. Continue reading “Paul Kelly/Paul Grabowski “Please Leave Your Light On” (Cooking Vinyl, 2020)”

Video: Paul Kelly “Sleep, Australia, Sleep”

The music sounds timeless but the subject-matter is so very now.  The latest video from Paul Kelly is his response to the Australian bush fires that ravaged the country last year, an event that seems long-forgotten amidst the current global crisis.  With lines like, “Sleep now, don’t worry, there’s no need to hurry,” and, “With acid seas rising to kiss coastal mountains,” his writing is lyrical and yet brutal.  It’s a call for action on a problem that hasn’t gone away while we have been distracted.  Continue reading “Video: Paul Kelly “Sleep, Australia, Sleep””

Paul Kelly “Songs From The South 1985 – 2019” (Cooking Vinyl, 2019)

It’s a point of pride for Australians that they don’t beat around the bush. So when it comes to reviewing ‘Songs From the South 1985-2019’, by one of that country’s greatest modern-day singer-songwriters,  you could maybe get away with just writing “this album is stunningly and consistently brilliant, go out and buy it today.” (That way if the Editor got sarky about whether this new-found brevity of style had anything to do with the outgoing ‘festive season’ then  you could claim you were reflecting the Aussies’ no-nonsense approach to life and that the comment summed up pretty neatly what you thought, anyway.) Continue reading “Paul Kelly “Songs From The South 1985 – 2019” (Cooking Vinyl, 2019)”

Songs for the apocalypse: Paul Kelly “They Thought I Was Asleep”

Paul Kelly has more pathos in the index finger of his right hand than most songwriters do in their, er, heads – exhibit A is this track, the version of which you can watch below recorded with bluegrass band The Stormwater Boys. When I first heard this song it moved me to tears, partly because of the sublime melody but moreover because of the understatement, the humour and sadness, and Paul Kelly’s gift for storytelling, the story in this song of a journey home in the back of your parents’ car at night and the gulf there is between those rows of seats. Nobody does this more evocatively. I imagine one day this will be a song that I can never listen to again.

Paul Kelly returns with new album “Nature” – watch the first video

Leaving you this weekend dear readers with news on an Aussie icon who doesn’t get half the recognition he deserves in Americana circles – he supported Dylan on one of his tours over there so he’s quite a big deal and a year ago his album ‘Life Is Fine’ gave him his first ARIA #1 in his 44-year career. Just a year later, he’s announced his return with another album due out October, entitled ‘Nature’. At this rate he’ll be releasing one album every three months by 2023. Tonedeaf notes that: “With most of the songs written over the course of several years and dating back to the recording sessions for albums such as The Merri Soul Sessions, Seven Sonnets And A Song, and Life Is Fine, Paul Kelly’s 24th record focuses on human nature’s small place in the natural world. Continue reading “Paul Kelly returns with new album “Nature” – watch the first video”

Interview: Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly is a big deal in Australia – his latest record went straight to number one and he supported Bob Dylan on his 2011 Aussie tour, although he still remains one of his country’s best-kept secrets for UK audiences. (But everyone knows what Neighbours is. Oh the injustice). The new album “Life is Fine” is a collection alive with energy and good humour, described by the Guardian as containing some of his “best songs in years”.  Mark Whitfield caught up with him at the start of the UK leg of his current tour and chatted about how the new record came about, writing songs from poetry and why nobody does Hank Williams songs like Hank Williams. Continue reading “Interview: Paul Kelly”