There’s a great article on Paul Kelly, the wonderful Australian singer-songwriter in the Free section of “The Monthly” website, Thoughts in the Middle of a Career.
The author is none other than Robert Forster, co-founder of the Go-Betweens.
Reviewing Paul Kelly’s “Songs from the South”, here’s what Forster says about Kelly’s voice:
None of these songs would be as good or as pleasurable if Kelly wasn’t the singer he is. It is – and you sense his often unenthusiastic self-appraisals are to blame – his most overlooked talent. His singing can be so in sync with a song’s action and character that you forget to notice its quality… His voice – sly and warm, laconic and sometimes frail – may be the closest thing we have to a national one.
You know, when I first saw the article I misread that last sentence as “His voice – sly and warm, laconic and sometimes frail – may be the closest thing we have to a national tone.
I agree with Forster, but like my misreading better. 🙂
I’ve only seen Kelly twice in concert: once at the big theatre on Market St., in Sydney and once at a free concert at The Rocks. Both times I have enjoyed Kelly’s unpretentiousness and his respect for his band, making sure they get their fair recognition.
At the Market St gig someone called out “What’s the score in the cricket?” (There was an Ashes tour in progress in England at the time). Kelly welcomed the chance for some audience interaction, and got the house lights turned up so he could have a look at us!
I love his music. Just one example will do for now. On “Leaps And Bounds” there is a refrain “I remember”. During the song he lapses into spoken word and says simply “I remember. I remember everything.” In my opinion remembering is a sign of integrity. It’s the cheats and deceivers who always “can’t remember”.
A songwriter with the integrity to remember and to admit when he stuffs up. Just one of the reasons why Paul Kelly’s music will endure. Hey, is Kelly an official ‘Living National Treasure’? He should be.
[Pause to consult]
Good Grief, Cheryl Kernot is. Am I hallucinating?