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Paul Kelly: Songs From The South 1985-2019

Paul Kelly: Songs From The South 1985-2019

Australia’s greatest and most enduring songwriter, Paul Kelly, will release Songs From The South 1985-2019 on November 15, a brilliant career summary available in double album vinyl format or an expanded CD and digital version of 43 tracks.  A collection of songs that spans the depth and breadth of his illustrious career including recent studio albums, Life Is Fine and Nature.

The tracklisting showcases some of this country’s most revered songs – ‘Before Too Long’, ‘Darling It Hurts’, ‘Leaps And Bounds’, ‘To Her Door’, ‘Dumb Things’, ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ and the finest Christmas song ever written about not being home for Christmas, ‘How To Make Gravy’.

These classics sit alongside recent gems such as ‘Firewood & Candles’, ‘Rising Moon’, the exhilarating rock song ‘With The One I Love’, ‘Every Day My Mother’s Voice’, his 2019 collaboration with Dan Sultan, which shows his writing is just as strong and sure now as it was in 1985, and brand new track, ‘When We’re Both Old & Mad’ with Kasey Chambers.

As a curtain-raiser, Kelly will also drop a truly unique new album, Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds. It features Paul collaborating with the Seraphim Trio, composer James Ledger and singer-songwriter Alice Keath to interpret bird inspired poems. The album is a unique marriage of electronics, acoustic instruments and the human voice, celebrating various winged creatures.

Coinciding with the release of Songs From The South 1985-2019 is Paul Kelly’s new book ‘Love Is Strong As Death’.  The collection of poems, written by others and curated by Paul, is released on November 18 and will see Paul undertake a promotional tour, November 18-29, visiting Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Castlemaine and Melbourne – see HERE for more information.

Paul Kelly also returns for another festive season with four very special outdoor concerts in December, as part of the much loved ‘Making Gravy’ Australian Tour.  With capacity venues over the last two years, this third instalment will see Paul perform live in Perth (7 December), Melbourne (12 December), Sydney (14 December) and Brisbane (21 December), with some of Australia and New Zealand’s finest musical exports – Courtney Barnett, Kate Miller-Heidke, Marlon Williams and Thelma Plum.

Kelly is one of those rare artists to spin a long career out of a hunger to explore new directions, from the raw and tender songcraft of Post to the hard-edged rock’n’roll of Gossip, to country and folk, bluegrass (see Smoke, Foggy Highway), a dub reggae-funk record with Professor Ratbaggy, a soul revue album with guest singers including his long-time backing singers Vika and Linda Bull (Paul Kelly presents the Merri Soul Sessions). In 2014 there was Seven Sonnets & A Song, setting Shakespearean sonnets to music and released on the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, followed by an album with Charlie Owen of songs they had sung at funerals, Death’s Dateless Night.

His 2017 set Life is Fine found Kelly at a new creative high. It became his first No.1 album, the kind of affirmation rarely given to artists so far into their career. That year Kelly won two ARIA Awards, for best male artist and best adult contemporary album. Kelly showed the timeless quality of his work, the way it spans generations, with a powerful performance of his ’80s song Dumb Things accompanied by Dan Sultan and hip-hop duo AB Original.

He returned to the awards in 2018, dedicating a poem to Kasey Chambers as he inducted her into the ARIA Hall of Fame, an honour Kelly received in 1997. His album of that same year, Nature, delivered Kelly a second ARIA No.1 album, debuting at the top of the charts.

His Order of Australia in 2017 acknowledged distinguished service to the performing arts and the promotion of the national identity through his contributions as singer, songwriter and musician. At the foundation is the songs.

In a career like this the craft, the resilience, the diligent attention to detail, the sheer passion for getting up in the morning and working on the next thing, are mostly unseen. But there always is a next thing, and that has created a legacy which chronicles not just the Australian experience but the human experience. For that reason his work will live on, like the stories of Henry Lawson, the collected works of Slim Dusty, the poetry of Judith Wright.

Sometimes we recognise ourselves in them, that bus ride through the cane of To Her Door; the child lifted up and over the waves in Deeper Water, walking in the crisp Melbourne chill in Leaps and Bounds. Loss, failure, renewal. Spring and Fall, as he described it in his song cycle about the seasons of love.

Kelly writes with acute insight about the concerns of indigenous Australians in songs such as From Little Things Big Things Grow, about the 1966 strike by stockmen on Wave Hill Station in the Northern Territory and subsequent land rights battle, co-written with Kev Carmody. There are songs about the most famous of Australians, like Bradman, and songs about simple pleasures, like Firewood and Candles, from Life is Fine.

In 1997, Kelly released greatest hits set Songs from the South. On November 15, Songs from the South 1985-2019 will bring the story to the present.

Kelly’s songs have a way of digging into the country in a way that few artists do, how it looks, feels, tastes, sounds. The joys and sorrows, achievements and follies. If you want to know something about Australia, how it feels to be Australian, you can find it in his songs.

‘Songs From The South 1985-2019’ is available now.

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