Paul Kelly

Nothing But a Dream

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This longtime Australian singer/songwriter has often been hailed as his continent's equivalent to Bruce Springsteen in his relevance and consistency. And while some of the songs reek of too much polish and production effects, such as "Midnight Rain," the subsequent "I Close My Eyes and Think of You" more than adequately compensates for such mistakes. On this album, the songs speak of a certain longing and asking for redemption, but are dominantly roots pop arrangements. "Change Your Mind" resembles Mark Knopfler's subtlety over a sparse, ambient background. When the backbeats take over, though, and strangle a song such as "Just About to Break," it leaves a lot, if anything, to be desired. "Love Is the Law" goes into David Bowie synth-heavy pop territory, but it also doesn't bode well. Thankfully, "If I Could Start Today Again" and "The Pretty Place" steer the album back into a welcomed and comfortable setting. It sounds as if Kelly has more than perfected his craft listening to "Smoke Under the Bridge" and "Would You Be My Friend," both of which could pass for last-minute cuts from The Ghost of Tom Joad. An added bonus is the four additional tracks from a previously released EP, with the funky duet of "Roll on Summer" being the high point of the lot.

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