Paul Kelly

November 18, 2019


As well as his best-known songs, the set includes a previously unreleased with Kasey Chambers.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Australia’s greatest and most enduring songwriter, Paul Kelly, will soon release Songs From the South 1985-2019: Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits, a collection of songs spanning the depth and breadth of his illustrious career including his recent studio albums Life Is Fine and Nature. It will be available in a double-album vinyl format with 26 tracks, and expanded CD with 43 tracks.


The comprehensive set, due January 10 on Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl, includes the finest Christmas song ever written about not being home for Christmas, “How To Make Gravy,” the popularity of which has made December 21st Gravy Day in Australia and wherever Paul has fans — a day the song is played in heavy rotation worldwide, and some people display cans of gravy on their doorsteps and windows. The collection also showcases some of Kelly’s most revered songs — “Before Too Long,” “Darling It Hurts,” ‘Leaps and Bounds,” “To Her Door,” “Dumb Things,” and “From Little Things Big Things Grow.”


These classics sit alongside recent gems such as “Firewood & Candles,” “Rising Moon,” the exhilarating rock song “With the One I Love,” and “Every Day My Mother’s Voice,” Kelly’s 2019 collaboration with Dan Sultan. The last, which shows his writing is as strong and sure now as it was in 1985, is nominated for Best Original Song Composed for the Screen (from The Final Quarter) at this year’s Screen Music Awards, taking place Nov 20. Songs From the South also includes a previously unreleased track, “When We’re Both Old & Mad,” featuring Kasey Chambers.  


The set comes on the heels of a truly unique new album released on August 30,Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds, whichfeatures Paul collaborating with the Seraphim Trio, composer James Ledger and singer-songwriter Alice Keath to interpret bird-inspired poems. This recording, which just earned Kelly a 2019 ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) award for Best Classical Album, combines electronics, acoustic instruments and the human voice in celebration of various winged creatures. Kelly is also nominated for three other ARIA awards this year in two other categories. He’s the first artist to be nominated across three genres in the same year. With 58 nods, he’s now the most nominated artist in ARIA history, and if he wins all three awards he will become the fourth most decorated artist. This year’s awards show is on Nov 26.


Kelly is one of those rare musicians who 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, folk, and bluegrass (Smoke, Foggy Highway), to a dub reggae-funk record with Professor Ratbaggy, to 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 funeralsDeath’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 he won two ARIA Awards, for Best Male Artist and Best Adult Contemporary AlbumKelly showed the timeless quality of his work, the way it spans generations, with a powerful ARIA show performance of his ’80s song “Dumb Things,” accompanied by Dan Sultan and hip-hop duo AB Original.


He returned to the awards show in 2018, dedicating a poem to Kasey Chambers as he inducted her into the ARIA Hall of Fame (an honor Kelly received in 1997). His album of that same year, Naturedelivered 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. 


In a career like Kelly’s, 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 that chronicles not just the Australian experience but also the human experience. For that reason his work will live on, like that of other great Australian artists: the stories of Henry Lawson, the collected works of Slim Dusty, the poetry of Judith Wright


In 1997, Kelly released greatest hits set Songs From the SouthOn January 10, 2020Songs From the South 1985-2019 will bring the story to the present.