Band a boon for Kelly at his mysterious best
PAUL Kelly has reconvened the guitardominant Boon Companions, the band that made 2003’ s sprawling gem Ways and Means . Like that album, Stolen Apples has a sense of being a full band collaboration and if it doesn’t quite match the earlier effort, then it still offers pleasures enough for the faithful. This may be Kelly’s first album where the lyrics — many of them filled with Biblical references — aren’t the most striking and lasting aspect. Here, much of the magic comes from the musical textures. Something as seemingly slight as Sweetest Thing is built on a demented barrelhouse piano part and Pete Luscombe’s drumming, which sounds as if he’s warming up for a New Orleans street parade. The drummer is also the star of Feelings of Grief , where he pounds away like a front- bar drunk trying to get his point across. You may not be sure what he wants but he has your attention. You’re 39, You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine ( first recorded by Tex, Don and Charlie) is a gorgeous half- sloppy waltz that doesn’t really build on the punchline of the title. Kelly’s comedic touch is more pronounced in The Lion and the Lamb and Right Outta My Head . The laughs come as welcome relief. The ( almost) title track Stolen Apples Taste the Sweetest is the pick of the bunch. Against a wall of guitars, Kelly tells of a farmer and his wife talking about a secret.
The words carry foreboding about what has been committed, be it sin, crime or both. This is Kelly at his mysterious best, offering a very simple sketch and leaving listeners to fill in their own details.
The chopping guitars insinuate all is not well and the chorus is an extended repetition of the title, as if it is a taunt. Great song, solid album.