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Paul Kelly - Stolen Apples

Paul Kelly, Stolen Apples

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

FIRST off, I must confess from the outset that I’d not heard of Paul Kelly before being sent this CD to review.

According to various Australian critics, however, he is a musical institution – a veteran of several bands who has since forged a successful solo career. However, he’s just as likely to be loved as loathed, and his vocals, in particular, seem to divide people into those two camps.

Nevertheless, he is recognized as “an icon of Australian rock music” as a member of the ARIA Hall of Fame and his music straddles folk, rock, a little country, and some occasional bluegrass.

Stolen Apples, his ninth solo LP (if I’m counting right), is an assured listen that competently displays the breadth of his range. Shot through with religious imagery (including the opening instrumental that sounds as though it has been ripped from a New Testament biopic), it’s also an album that embraces many classic rock values.

It’s arguably at its best when revelling in the style of American artists such as Tom Petty or Dylan; with songs like the vibrant God Told Me and the banjo-laced Sweetest Thing offering instant (and lasting) appeal.

There’s a welcome fire to Right Outta My Head, a glorious break-up anthem that proclaims from the get-go that “I’m gonna fuck her right outta my head”. It’ll likely offend the more sensitive ears, but it’s a passionate slice of old-school rock that benefits from the vitriol and defiance in its lyrics.

Keep on Driving is another strong offering, a good piece of road music that would provide a welcome accompaniment for a drive through the Outback or West Coast America.

Arriving in contrast, and proving that Kelly can be romantic, is the piano-laced You’re 39, You’re Beautiful And You’re Mine, a slow-builder that’s quietly beautiful, while The Ballad Of Queenie And Rover proves his worth as a musical storyteller and is well worth taking the time to listen to properly.

Evidence of his country influence, meanwhile, can be found in The Foggy Fields Of France. But, as previously stated, Kelly is more satisfying (and at his best) when sticking to rock and title track Stolen Apples Taste The Sweetest, with its siren-like opening guitar riff, is another highlight worth savouring.

The overall impression, therefore, is that I wouldn’t mind hearing more from Kelly. And you probably won’t either if classic rock is your thing.

Download picks: Stolen Apples Taste The Sweetest, Sweetest Thing, Outta My Head, Keep on Driving, You’re 39, You’re Beautiful And You’re Mine.

Track listing:

  1. Feelings of Grief
  2. God Told Me To
  3. Stolen Apples Taste the Sweetest
  4. Sweetest Thing
  5. Youre 39 Youre Beautiful and Youre Mine
  6. Lion and the Lamb
  7. Right Outta My Head
  8. Keep on Driving
  9. Ballad of Queenie and Rover
  10. Foggy Fields of France
  11. Please Leave Your Light On