Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly’s 24th studio album Nature sees him once again pushing his creative and musical boundaries.
Hot on the heels of most recent solo record Life Is Fine, his latest opus is another concept album on the theme of, as the title suggests, nature; the pull of the tides, wildlife and the environment.
It’s a typically thoughtful and affecting record from Kelly, even more so since he has taken the opportunity to put five of his favourite poems to music – a nod to his recent album of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
Indeed, proceedings kick off with a vibrant take on the Dylan Thomas poem “And Death Shall Have No Dominion”, which Kelly pulls off with ease. It’s an unexpected yet pleasant treat and is followed by the rocking “The One I Love”, sounding like a lost track from Kelly’s classic Deeper Water era.
“A Bastard Like Me” is a tribute to Aboriginal Australian activist Charlie Perkins, while the ‘Nature’ theme is especially prominent on the atmospheric, acoustic folk storytelling of “Seagulls of Seattle”. Big weather features heavily on “The Morning Storm” which builds gradually like the rain of the slow-moving rain Kelly sings about.
One of the many highlights of Nature is closing track, “The Trees”, which uses the Phillip Larkin poem of the same name for its lyrics, while “The River” is another classic Kelly song to add to his canon, with arpeggiated acoustic guitar, piano and cello – brilliantly understated and emotional.
Nature proves that Kelly remains inspired, curious and above all else relevant in 2018. Here’s to Kelly producing another 24 albums as good as this one. That really would be a miracle of nature…