The Upshot: Prolific Aussie submits a lyrically-rich return-to-form.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
Paul Kelly is one of those musical exports – alongside folks like Graham Parker and Dave Edmunds – that never really caught on big in the U.S., relegated to the “cult status” neighborhood despite turning in one brilliant album after the next. His latest, Life Is Fine just underscores that yet again, as the Australian singer songwriter offers yet another great collection of songs.
Life Is Fine is a welcome return-to-form for Kelly, as he brings back a full band for this set and while there aren’t any raucous barnburners here, Kelly & Co aren’t afraid to plug in and layer on some R&B, like on the album opener “Rising Moon” and the Vika Bull-fronted “My Man’s Got a Cold” or the Blues-soaked “Firewood And Candles”. There are snatches of Dylan, both lyrically and through Kelly’s vocals throughout, especially on a song like the beautiful “Letter In The Rain,” but he still manages to come off original despite the obvious musical touchstone.
Kelly has been anything but absent for the past few years, turning in one ambitiously creative album after the next, including a collection of funeral songs (2016’s Death’s Dateless Night) as well as a couple of collections adapted from others poetry. And while, those were solid albums, Life Is Fine boasts some of Kelly’s best lyrics in years.
DOWNLOAD: “Finally Something Good,” Life Is Fine” and “Letter In The Rain”