Hidden Things collects songs that were recorded by Paul Kelly and both his backup bands, the Coloured Girls and the Messengers, from 1986 to 1991, but weren't put on to any previous albums (except for "Bradman" and "Pastures of Plenty"). Paul's genius for telling stories behind the jingle of his acoustic guitar is pure and plentiful throughout this album. His defined Australian accent and colloquial lingo add flare to songs like "Brand New Ways" and "Reckless," while the slower version of "Sweet Guy," here entitled "Sweet Guy Waltz," presents an even eerier feel than the quicker version found on 1989's So Much Water... album. His story telling can be likened to Harry Chapin's, except Kelly leaves more to the imagination, adding a sturdier foundation for pondering and analysis. For example, the touching "Other People's Houses is about a young boy who travels with his mother every weekend to clean houses in a ritzy part of town, and how he gained momentary happiness by losing himself in all the surrounding luxuries. The song is spoken, except for the chorus, but the riffs and the background vocals greatly enhance the charm of the story. Kelly includes tidbits of history, politics, and even social cause in most of his songs on this album, and while they aren't completely thinking songs, most of them require a keen sense of listening in order to follow the story being told. The music on Hidden Things is still sharp and lovely, even at face value, but the artist always has something to say here, and most of the time it's quite interesting.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne