Following his stripped down How To Make Gravy (The A-Z Recordings) with this lyrically mature, musically sophisticated, truly lovely album, Paul Kelly continues to add to his great legacy. Like fine wine, he shows that one can subtly shift gears and yet remain experimental. Beginning with New Found Year, in which he declares his love anew with language that is seemingly simple yet not the least, much of the album touches upon themes of intimacy, love, and faith. You will find much of Paul's expected sharp twists and turns in which he seems to shift gears mid song, making a characters declaration of commitment both a promise and an uncertainty. Listen to I'm Gonna Be Good, which doesn't have much wordplay, in fact, it follows a sing song-y children's rhyme approach and is song with such cheer that you might miss that the protagonist is trying to convince himself as well as the world that he means what he is saying. He may have his fingers crossed behind his back, but he's trying.
You can listen to the album as one complete story or take it apart song by song. Either way, it will resonate long after each listen. Cold As Canada, with it's slow churning lyric, and description of a woman leaving a man, is particularly haunting.
I suggest one wait for the bonus song about a minute of so after the last song ends. It's quite a little gem.
I am confounded as to how this songwriter has not attained greater popularity here in the states. He's a bit of a legend in Australia where he is considered by many to be it's poet laureate.