Paul Kelly at Old Town School of Folk Music, Maurer Hall | Concert preview
Perceptive and poetic storytelling from the Australian songwriter.
“In the middle of the journey of my life I found myself inside a tent of mirrors.” So begins Paul Kelly’s neo-memoir How to Make Gravy, setting the scene in 2004, when the Australian songwriter performed in a mirrored tent in Melbourne. But the attendant metaphor is no coincidence. Kelly, having hit middle age, had decided to pull back the curtain and reveal the secrets behind many of his songs in a series of “A-Z” shows, alphabetical strolls through his ever-deepening catalog.
Kelly’s self-chronicling should surprise no one, given his place as a preeminent storyteller who has always peppered his songs with the truth of firsthand detail and autobiography. Now nearing 60 and celebrating 30 years in the biz, Kelly is just as perceptive and poetic writing about cricket as he is at crafting a love-to-loss song cycle (like the unsparingly stark Spring and Fall, his first album in five years and 19th overall). Yet what makes him so tremendously talented is his trust in the listener, who is often enlisted to come to his or her own conclusions when Kelly’s tales trail off or end on artfully discordant notes. The boy pretending to doze in the back of a car while his parents argue in “They Thought I Was Asleep” (from 2005’s Foggy Highway) never learns the fate of their marriage, or even the exact nature of their fight, and neither do we, but Kelly was smart enough to leave it at that. The knife’s already in; no need to twist it.