PAUL KELLY Debuts 2 New Songs As Part Of “People”, Out Feb 24

“[Paul Kelly] writes some of the most accomplished erotic love songs in pop.” – Los Angeles Times

“An extraordinary songwriter, with an especially keen eye for lyrical detail.” – Trouser Press

 “One of the finest songwriters I have ever heard, Australian or otherwise.” – Rolling Stone



Due February 24 via Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl Records,
this 18-song digital-only release premieres four previously unreleased tracks, including two new Paul Kelly recordings

Paul Kelly

FEBRUARY 9, 2023 (LOS ANGELES) — Long regarded as one of Australia’s preeminent musicians, Paul Kelly delivers a masterclass on narrative songwriting on PEOPLE (Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl Records; release date: February 24, 2023), the fourth in his on-going series of themed, career-spanning compilations. This 18-track set focuses on a wide variety of individuals – star athletes, politicians, outlaws, artists, and fellow musicians – whom Kelly describes as “truly remarkable.”

Covering the length and breadth of Kelly’s storied career, People draws songs not just from his many acclaimed albums but from his work in film and theater as well. People also debuts a quartet of new tracks: recent live renditions of “Our Sunshine” and “From Little Things Big Things Grow” along with the previously unreleased tunes, “Light On The Hill” and “Laughing Boy.” 

The songs on People exemplify Kelly’s diverse range of interests and his deep commitment to exposing injustice. While the rollicking “Our Sunshine” tells the story of the notorious 19th century Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly (no relation), it also addresses the hardships that poor Catholics experienced then in Australia. Kelly wrote “Laughing Boy,” back in 1984 after reading Brendan Behan’s controversial autobiography Borstal Boy, but only recorded it in 2022 after finding a recording of it on an old cassette tape. This long-standing conflict between Irish Catholics and English Protestants also informs “Arthur McBride,” a 19th century Irish folk song that Kelly describes as inhabiting “the borderland between legend and history,” and it ranks as one of the most darkly comical Christmas songs ever.   

Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly
photo credit: Michael Hili

Kelly shines the spotlight on several artists and musicians he admires. “The Ballad Of Queenie And Rover” pays tribute to a pair of his favorite artists, Queenie McKenzie and Rover Thomas, two renowned Aboriginal artists. He wrote “Charlie Owen’s Slide Guitar” about the talented Australian guitarist many years before they collaborated on his 2016 album Death’s Dateless Night. Charlie Owen, in Kelly’s words, “makes a song sound new every night.” After learning that a note reading “dear friends and gentle hearts” was found in Stephen Foster’s pocket after he died, Kelly thought a line like that shouldn’t go to waste so he used it as the opening for “Stephen Foster’s Last Waltz,” which also contains references to other songs by Foster.

“From Little Things Big Things Grow” is one of several songs on People that tackle racial prejudice and the plight of Aboriginal and Indigenous people in Australia. This 2022 live rendition (one of two sparkling tracks where Kelly duets with singer Jess Hitchcock) transforms the 1966 Aboriginal livestock workers strike into a powerfully moving, Dylan-esque protest song. “A Bastard Like Me,” which Kelly was commissioned to write for a theatrical work, looks at an infamous institution that housed Indigenous children who were separated from their families. “Rally Around The Drum,” a co-write with the legendary Australian musician and Aboriginal activist Archie Roach, presents a portrait of a lowly tent boxer (work both Roach and his father did).  One of the album’s harder rocking tracks, “Pigeon/Jandamarra,” offers a dramatic retelling of the late 19th century Indigenous uprising in northwestern Australia.

Although many tunes here deal with Australian history, Paul Kelly’s sublime storytelling skills bring a universality to the songs. This is particularly evident in the songs about Australian athletes. You don’t need to know anything about Australian sports to understand how talented footballers Adam Goodes (“Every Day My Mother’s Voice”) and Eddie Betts (“Every Step Of The Way”) were or how awful was the racial abuse they encountered. “Bradman” takes a poetic look at the great Australian cricketer Sir Donald Bradman, who, despite his international fame, was a “kid from the sticks.” 

Don’t think, however, that People is a heavy history lesson. “Shane Warne” is a hilarious ode about the fabled cricket player and lovable joker (or, in Australian parlance, a larrikin). If this lively ditty (featuring a clarinet solo!) rings a bell, then you probably are familiar with Lord Kitchener’s calypso classic, “London Is The Place For Me.” “Light On The Hill,” one of Kelly’s new recordings for People and a rare cover tune, hails from the musical, Keating!,and it delivers a rather humorous look at Australian politics and former Prime Minister, Paul Keating

While People’s songs mainly center on actual people, “Desdemona,” “Josephina,” and “Anastasia Changed Her Mind” (or as Kelly calls them: “the four-syllabled A ladies”) are tunes about fictional characters – although Kelly does admit that Desdemona feels very real to him. In “Desdemona,” he retells Shakespeare’s play from a heartbroken Othello’s point-of-view. While the story of “Anastasia Changed Her Mind” is pure fiction, he has said it has real-life details, including the title phrase. “Josephina,” meanwhile, is just an irresistibly enchanting song about the pursuit of love. 

People is the fourth installment of Paul Kelly’s ongoing series of digital-only releases based around specific themes. He launched these compilations in June of 2022 with Time, which was followed by Rivers And Rain in July and Drinking in September. More of these curated retrospectives are slated for the year ahead. 

For the past five decades, Paul Kelly has earned worldwide accolades for his music, but he holds a special place in his native land. Kelly has earned the prestigious title of Officer of the Order of Australia for his distinguished service to the arts and is a member of the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame. He has written best-selling books, been involved in film and theater projects, and had a documentary, Stories of Me, made on him.  And, of course, he continues to make albums, the most recent being an expanded version of Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train.  

Paul Kelly


Light On The Hill *
Laughing Boy *
Stephen Foster’s Last Waltz 
Every Step Of The Way 
Charlie Owen’s Slide Guitar 
The Ballad Of Queenie And Rover 
Rally Round The Drum 
A Bastard Like Me 
Anastasia Changes Her Mind 
Every Day My Mother’s Voice [Live at Sidney Myer Music Bowl 2019]
From Little Things Big Things Grow [Live at Sidney Myer Music Bowl 2022] *
Our Sunshine [Live at Sidney Myer Music Bowl 2022] *
Shane Warne 
Arthur McBride

* Previously unreleased recordings


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