13 Nov 2008

Album review: Songs from the South (Vol. 2)

Album review: Songs from the South (Vol. 2)

By Ray Purvis, The West Australian


If Songs From The South Vol. 1, which covered 1985 to 1997, was full of expected radio hits (‘Before Too Long’, ‘To Her Door’, ‘From Little Things’, ‘How To Make Gravy’), then the second instalment spanning the period 1998 to 2008 is a much more advantageous proposition. Drawing not only on his better-known singer-songwriter albums Words and Music (1998), Ways and Means (2004) and Stolen Apples (2007), Kelly displays   the full extent of his versatility by including tracks from his genre-hopping side projects like the groove-based Professor Ratbaggy, the bluegrass and country albums with Uncle Bill and The Stormwater Boys soundtrack album Silent Partner and the informal 2006 pop group effort Stardust Five.


Among the mix there are storytelling songs such as ‘They Thought I Was Asleep’ and ‘The Oldest Story in the Book’, love songs like the elegant ‘You’re 39’ and ‘If I Could Start Today Again’, cultural epics like ‘Our Sunshine’, the Ventures-like guitar instrumental ‘Gunnamatta’ and the razor sharp wit of ‘Every F***ing City’. The scope and musicality of   these tracks is nothing short of staggering.


Rounding off the compilation are two new songs: ‘Thoughts in the Middle of the Night’, recorded around the time of the Stolen Apples sessions, and the devastating word portrait of cricketer Shane Warne (“Mr Warne on his phone sends a lot of texts/Cause he likes to have quite a lot of sex”) set to a jaunty calypso rhythm. Like his recent   Paul Kelly A-Z concerts in Perth, this collection lays to rest any doubt – pure genius.