Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
This gets a WOW right up front. Just stunning song arrangement, writing, musicianship, etc. But then again, we are talking about Paul Kelly. He is the Australian equivalent to Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen. Nature is Paul’s 24th studio album and it is a true game changer. I will get back to that shortly.
Some of the most powerful forms of protest are ones that had unintended benefits or consequences. Paul Kelly’s Nature falls into that category. I don’t know if that is how this collection was intended, but that is my takeaway. By singing songs about nature, this took on a purpose that is different from the rest. Not only is it sonically pleasing, but the words are so sharp and poignant that they can cut glass. Paul just wants us to think about subjects like animals, seagulls, mushrooms, and rivers. And by thinking about these subjects, maybe just maybe, we will see the error of our ways. Not at all different than the warning we all got from The Lorax years ago.
Some of the songs are so weightless and cerebral, the have a heavenly quality. Just take one listen to Morning Storm (Track 8) and you will see the light. The guitar effects are so comforting, I just want to savor this moment. It is the equivalent of a warm blanket on a cold night. The feeling of uncertainty and danger from a bad storm is also present. The song starts off softly, but definitely has that stormy feeling as it progresses. The thunder sound effect definitely adds to the atmosphere.
God’s Grandeur (Track 11) has that “British Invasion” feel to it. Not the vocals as much as the instrumentation, tone, and tempo. This is another non protest, protest song. Not preachy at all, just provokes thought. The lyrics and backing vocals are gorgeous. I wanted to say heavenly but because of the song title, I resisted. I guess the cat is out of the bag.
To round out the album is the absolutely stunning number, The Trees (Track 12). No, this is not a Rush cover. This is an original composition by Paul Kelly. This song is not complex, but the beauty is actually in its simplicity. The song’s intro and outro seem to be very similar. It works perfectly on this number. It’s such lovely ear candy that two times isn’t nearly enough. Good thing for rewind.
This is definitely a must have for 2018 and beyond. I have listened numerous times as of this writing and I still cannot get enough. If you are not familiar with Paul Kelly, you should get acquainted. This is a great entry point into the Paul Kelly catalogue. It also happens to be one of my tops for 2018.