Paul Kelly has jumped around genres and styles many times over his 40+ year recording career but he has never ventured anywhere as differently as he has travelled with Paul Grabowsky to reimagine his own songs on ‘Please Leave Your Light Now’.
‘Please Leave Your Light On’ reimagines 11 Paul Kelly songs and an evergreen.
“Paul’s songs cover a very wide spectrum,” says collaborator and musical director Paul Grabowsky. “I cannot think of another songwriter in Australia who has covered as much ground as Paul. You see in the amount of artists who have covered his material how responsive people have been to it. He was able to trawl through and choose the number of songs that would fit an intimacy of a piano and voice situation. I really think what we have gone for here is that sense of closeness, of two people working closely together to get the listener to focus on the lyrics and hear them clearly. You get a mood, a feeling around each of the songs”.
Paul Kelly tells Noise11.com that not all of his older songs would fit this concept. “There are songs that are hard to change,” he says. “It’s not like I’ve made a decision not to do some songs. Certain songs are hard to do away from the way they were originally recorded. A good example of that is ‘Before Too Long’. I am always trying to sing my songs differently or find new ways to do them but ‘Before Too Long’ resists another way to do it. The chords move very quickly. There is just no other way to do that song. Another one of my songs is ‘To Her Door’. It’s got to have that feel and it has that melody that Steve Connolly laid down in stone. Every guitar player I have played with since sees no reason to try and fuck with it. Some songs resist that change but in choosing songs for this album I chose songs that were more manurable, I guess. I think there is one exception on this record and that’s ‘If I Could Start This Day Again’. That is another one where the chords move quickly and you don’t have the space to shift that around. We played that song fairly close to the way it was written.
To create ‘Leave Your Light On’ Paul Kelly put his faith and trust into the decisions of Paul Grabowsky. “It’s like the first advice you give to an actor. ‘Listen to the other actor’. My way into this was to listen to Paul,” Kelly says. “It is built on trust. We had to trust each other. I’ve worked with Paul before so I knew he was going to do two things. He was going to honour the songs when he looks at the arrangement with certain melodies and riffs from the original recordings. He also takes it to Graboskyland. For me it is like being invited to Grabowskyland. I wander around in there and find all these discoveries. They are new ways to sing the songs. It is a gift for any artist to find new things in their old songs”.
Paul Grabowsky’s recently also worked with Kate Ceberano on a similar album texture. “The huge difference between Kate’s album and this one is that these are largely Paul Kelly’s original songs. I am working with the composer and singer with his own material. That is a very different challenge working with songs you might know and rearranging for this situation”.
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