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Australia's Greatest And Most Enduring Songwriter, Paul Kelly, Collaborates With Award-Winning Jazz Pianist And Composer Paul Grabowsky

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Songs framed live in studio with just vocal and piano create an introspective mood perfect for these times.
Paul Kelly
Please Leave Your Light On due July 31 from Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl North America (digitally), August 14 on CD and vinyl

Paul Grabowsky and Paul Kelly share a love of the classic collaborations between Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle (particularly In the Wee Small Hours), and Tony Bennett & Bill Evans (with whose playing Grabowsky’s has been favorably compared).

“All of the songs were already part of Paul’s extensive catalogue,” says Grabowsky of the project. “I transcribed them, and adapted them for the piano/voice combination. In addition, I threw in a ballad by Cole Porter called ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye,’ which Paul delivers in an understated, sensitive way. The performances are intimate, and shine a light on lyrical moments from the Kelly oeuvre. Paul is a generous collaborator, always listening closely to what I am doing, and giving me the freedom to bring my own interpretation to the songs. I think people will hear, and hopefully enjoy, the deep communication that we are bringing to the performances.”

“As Paul mentioned, all the songs except one were written by me over many years,” adds Kelly. “The most recent one, ‘True to You,’ opens the album with a little nod to the Gershwin brothers and it’s the only song that hasn’t appeared in another form on a previous record. We chose the other songs with a mind to their suitability for direct address, close, concentrated performance and room for silence to draw the listener in.”

Drawing the listener in is exactly what these carefully crafted, intimate performances do.

Please Leave Your Light On came about after Paul Grabowsky was asked to curate a series of concerts in which he worked in duo settings with various singers. Having known Paul Kelly since 1995, Grabowsky asked him to collaborate, and from the outset the music clicked. Deciding to record what they had performed at their concert, they did so over three days in late 2019.

The 11 Kelly songs they recorded were already part of his extensive catalogue. Transcribed and adapted by Grabowsky for the piano/voice combination, the album has a classic fireside feel. They chose the songs with a mind to their suitability for direct address, close, concentrated performance and room for silence to draw the listener in.

“Paul is driven by a similar impulse to my own, namely an ongoing fascination with music in its many forms. This deep curiosity has in recent years seen him explore different genres, introduce his love of poetry to his wide and receptive fan base, and record with me,” adds Grabowsky. “The reason I love working with Paul is that he always surprises me. He’s endlessly fertile, turning my songs inside out and upside down (to quote Diana Ross) and finding things in them I didn’t know were there. And that makes me sing them differently. Singing with Paul is like walking a tightrope. It’s as if we are acrobats together. We have to pay serious attention to one another to pull the songs off. I like that.”

In February Kelly released the single “Sleep, Australia, Sleep,” an indictment of Australian politicians and their supporters who turn a blind eye to climate change as Australia quite literally burns. It’s a timely message to all the world’s leaders that “ostrich management” (i.e. burying your head in the sand) doesn’t make problems go away, and in fact makes them worse. (And it could also apply to the current coronavirus pandemic.) A double-sided single debuted worldwide in May, “Hummin’ With Myself”/“Every Day My Mother's Voice” (live withJess Hitchcock).

Songs from the South: Greatest Hits 1985-2019, released in November, featured a new song, a fun duet with Kasey Chambers, “When We’re Both Old & Mad.” The collection quickly topped the Pop Charts in Australia (his third album in a row to debut at #1). It’s basically a 43-song case for having Kelly’s music a part of the soundtrack to your life.

A collection of Kelly’s favorite poems, Love Is Stronger Than Death, is available via Penguin Books Australia. Kelly is also featured on Courtney Barnett’s latest album, MTV Unplugged, which includes the two performing singer-songwriter/activist Archie Roach’s “Charcoal Road.” (Paul co-produced Roach’s first album, back in 1990).

Track Listing

  • True To You
  • Petrichor
  • When A Woman Loves A Man
  • Sonnet 138
  • Time and Tide
  • Young Lovers
  • Every Time We Say Goodbye
  • Please Leave Your Light On
  • You Can Put Your Shoes Under My Bed
  • Winter Coat
  • God’s Grandeur
  • If I Could Start Today Again

The press on Paul Grabowsky

“An eminent jazz pianist with over 26 recordings to his name, Mr Grabowsky is regarded as one of Australia's foremost screen and theatre composers with credits for over 17 film and 13 television scores including Human Touch, Innocence and The Jungle Book 2.” — TheaterTravels.org “Grabowsky has always been blessed with the touch to make a piano truly sing, and when combined with a good Steinway and superb recording quality, each note throughout this album seems to glisten as it wings from speaker to ear.” Review of the album Solo. — Sydney Morning Herald

“The multi-talented Grabowsky is a tower of strength, his accompaniments incisive and sparse when required … Blessed with the keyboard touch and melodic sensibility we associate with great jazz pianists such as Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, he provides introductions, interludes and improvisations, where he moves through the harmonic changes in masterly fashion.” — EricMyersJazz.com

The press on Paul Kelly

“It seems fairly absurd that Paul Kelly doesn’t fill football stadiums worldwide. One of the most consistently adventurous and literate songwriters on the planet throughout the past 35-odd years, he attracts a mere cult following outside of his native Australia wherein his iconic status is ironclad." — Penguin Eggs

“One of Australia’s favorite songwriters has compiled a whopping 43-song collection for your listening pleasure. Paul Kelly has been making music for the better part of 40 years, and this week, Songs From The South 1985-2019: Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits features sone of his biggest and most beloved songs. We named his 2018 album Nature one of the best of that year." — Ellen Johnson, Paste

“Mention Paul Kelly’s name to virtually any Australian music fan and watch their eyes light up with the recognition of one of that country’s most prominent, influential and veteran singer/songwriters....There is no such thing as too much Paul Kelly music.” — Hal Horowitz, American Songwriter

This story appears courtesy of 1888 Media.
Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

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