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Review: Paul Kelly's song cycle of love

The Associated Press, Tuesday, November 20, 2012, 10:43am (PST)

Paul Kelly, "Spring and Fall," (RED Distribution)

After time spent exploring his catalog, Australian Paul Kelly has made his first new music in five years. "Spring and Fall" is a song cycle tracing the arc of a relationship from the rush of new love through disillusionment, a bitter end and finally to acceptance.

Recorded acoustically with a few embellishments in a rural hall, the story is told succinctly in 11 songs, none more than 3:50 minutes in length. The singing of Laura Jean Englert in the opening two tracks conveys harmony both musically and thematically. By the time things turn sour in "Cold as Canada," the music is icy, too.

Kelly is one of the world's most expressive and economical songwriters, one of the world's best, period. Each song here stands on its own or as a chapter in a book. By the end, in "Little Aches and Pains," the old lovers are reunited as old friends and Kelly concludes the story with this sentiment: "I don't count my losses now, just my gains."

Or almost ends. There is an uncredited hidden track. Although sweet, it's too slight to sum up the story and is a distraction.

CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: In "Someone New," the restless narrator yearns for a fling but doesn't want to mess up his relationship. The solution is in his mind: "Daily I will make her someone new," he sings.

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