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 whoseplaying 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. NME premiered a track, “If I Could Start Today Again,” here.
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 firesidefeel. 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 Grabowski. “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 w/Jess 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). It should also be noted Archie has a great autobiography out now.
1. True To You
3. When A Woman Loves A Man
4. Sonnet 138
5 Time and Tide
6. Young Lovers
7. Every Time We Say Goodbye
8. Please Leave Your Light On
9. You Can Put Your Shoes Under My Bed
10. Winter Coat
11. God‘s Grandeur
12. If I Could Start Today Again