Paul Kelly

Live, May 1992

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Recorded during two shows in his homeland of Australia (Perth and Melbourne), Live, May 1992 is simply Paul Kelly center stage for nearly an hour and a half with just his voice, guitar, harmonica, and songs. In the studio, his band, the Messengers/Coloured Girls, were able to fill in the missing pieces and accentuate every little hook in Kelly's music, fleshing out his simple guitar and vocal. But because of the depth of the writing, his vignettes of life, love, and the underbelly of both have plenty of power on their own. And quite often he's actually able to use the limitations of a solo performance to his advantage, peeling away the veneer to the point where the words and melody are all that really matter. Tracks such as the stark and longing "Wintercoat," the Raymond Carver-inspired "Everything's Turning to White," and "From Little Things Big Things Grow"'s story of quiet rebellion actually gain from the stripped-down setting. It's a testament to the strength of the material that, while Kelly rarely varies from a slow to midtempo strum on the guitar and doesn't really lighten things up with between-song banter, he's able to hold your attention for the better part of the 22 songs and 80-plus minutes. Live, May 1992 should interest fans, but those with only a passing fancy may find themselves drifting a bit after the first disc, and would be better suited to check out one of his studio recordings first -- Gossip and Under the Sun are especially recommended.

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