Paul Kelly & Paul Grabowsky – Please Leave Your Light On
Apparently, veteran artists have begun to explore the music of the past or reinvent their own in that indomitable style. I recently reviewed an LP by jug bandmaster Jim Kweskin & Samoa Wilson that beautifully reinvented songs as dusty as 1914.
Here, Down Under singer-songwriter Paul Kelly teams with award-winning jazz pianist Paul Grabowsky who adapted one Cole Porter song & 11 Kelly originals into a piano/voice arrangement. They reinvent existing tunes into more intimate performances – live in the studio.
Kelly/Grabowsky’s lounge jazzy aim was to recapture what teams such as Frank Sinatra & Nelson Riddle, Tony Bennett & Bill Evans did.
The duo reshapes with mood & atmosphere successfully on the 12-track LP (available digitally July 31st) drops its vinyl/CD Aug. 14th — Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl.
Paul Kelly is a great artist, especially with The Messengers. His effort here is genuine. While Grabowsky’s piano is perfectly suited to the intimate sound of 50s easy listening Kelly’s vocal is not always rendered with the necessary poignancy.
Some songs work – some don’t. The vocal tonality doesn’t always have the necessary muscle suited to the era he’s adapting to. The effort is good but there was a reason Sinatra, Bennett, Johnny Mathis & Nat King Cole were legends. And to a lesser degree Gene McDaniel, Jack Jones & Brook Benton.
There are moments — “Petrichor,” is a moving Kelly vocal. He doesn’t always project the deep warmth of a polished timbre or possesses a MOR (middle-of-the-road) voice or phrasing. But remember — he isn’t Sinatra or Billy Eckstein.
There have been other attempts: The late Australian singer Gary Shearston (in 1974) covered Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You.” It was a UK Top 10 hit & was impressive. There was a charm. His deep vocal helped.
Kelly’s “When a Woman Loves a Man,” is excellently reinterpreted. Sinatra quality.
Kelly has been a first-rate singer/songwriter for over 35-years though many Americans may not know him. He is worth exploring. “Sonnet 138,” (William Shakespeare lyric) is half-sung/half narrated with deep piano notes in a compelling mix. Recorded during a 3-day session Grabowsky’s piano fills in melodically & accompanies Kelly’s voice with musical integrity. The 2 Paul’s are a good team.
“Young Lovers,” & “Winter Coat” are good songs but a misstep. Vocals sound strained on “Coat.” Cole Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” & “God’s Grandeur,” are jewels.
Far more substance & performed with precision. Grabowsky’s piano without question — a perfect accompanist. Tone & touch — absorbing. A wise listener listens to both the vocal & the piano – as one. “Please Leave Your Light On,” is a fine example.
Despite my misgivings which are minor the entire set is definitely enjoyable to ears that appreciate this subtle & relaxing style.
Kelly & Grabowsky are always dependable. The 43-minute CD is available at Amazon.
Paul Grabowsky: https://paulgrabowsky.com.au/
Paul Kelly: https://www.paulkelly.com.au/