PAUL KELLY – Spring and Fall

January 01, 1970

(Gawd Aggie)


With all the kudos and accolades that have been tossed
Paul Kelly’s way over the past 30 years or so, it’s rather incredible that the
guy isn’t better known. Not that the Kelly camp hasn’t tried to spread the word
to those unawares; the past year or so has seen the release of not one, but two
critical compilations – a double disc greatest hits entitled Songs of the South and an expansive
anthology recorded solo in concert, The
A-Z Recordings
. Even so, the bar’s barely budged when it comes to wider
public appreciation. It’s left, then, to this all new effort — Kelly’s first
in five years — to reap the recognition he’s so long deserves.


Yet if it succeeds – and it would be nothing less than
criminal if it doesn’t – it won’t be because of any change in M.O. Kelly is
still writing tear-stained songs of remorse and reflection that are unfailingly
affecting, and melodic to the max. The artist himself describes Spring and Fall as a song cycle dealing
with the evolution of romance, and a quick survey of the song titles – “When A
Woman Loves a Man,” “Gonna Be Good,” “I’m On Your Side,” “Little Aches and
Pain” – reflects the tattered emotions that naturally spring to the surface.
Like Bruce Springsteen, John Hiatt, Loudon Wainwright and Guy Clark – astute
songwriters with whom he shares some obvious everyman sentiments – Kelly isn’t
afraid to reveal his needling fears and vulnerabilities and express them in song,
no matter how painful the revelation.


While he’s never shied away from an occasional bitter
barb, his most touching songs are also the most tender, and here, “New Found
Year,” “Sometimes My Baby” and “For the Ages” not only touch a nerve, but touch
the heart as well. Likewise, “When a Woman Loves a Man” makes a nice companion
piece to “When a Man Loves a Woman” – natch – and as an unassuming entreaty,
it’s no less affecting. “I’m On Your Side” is graceful and reassuring, and as
eloquent and effusive as the sweetest serenade. And when he waxes so woefully
about love’s unspoken divide on “Sometimes My Baby,” he summons up the
insecurity that even the sturdiest relationship finds difficult to withstand.


Both revealing and resilient, Spring and Fall could be deservedly called an album for all


Man Loves a Woman,” “I’m On Your Side,” “Sometimes My Baby” -LEE ZIMMERMAN


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