Band a boon for Kelly at his mys­te­ri­ous best

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music - Polly Coufos

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.

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