Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Quick Look At The New Neil Finn/Paul Kelly Live Album Out On Record Store Day

It seems inconceivable that Neil Finn and Paul Kelly have not released an album like this so far. The two songwriters, Finn from New Zealand and Kelly from Australia, have toured before but maybe the idea of putting out a live album never occurred to them until recently? If you are, like me, a fan of these guys, you'll be delighted to learn that Omnivore Recordings has prepped a double-disc live album, recorded in Sydney in early 2013, that will drop in early December. In the meantime, there's a single disc version that features highlights from the concert and that album is out on Friday, November 27, 2015 (Record Store Day, in case you didn't know). That album, which you can get on vinyl, is called Goin' Your Way (Highlights) and it showcases the best of the 2-CD set with quite a few obvious high-points along the way, notably Finn's sublime take on "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House and Kelly's "To Her Door" in all its late period Dylan-like glory.

But, really, is there any doubt that "Distant Sun" shines -- sorry, no pun intended -- here in blazing fashion? One marvels at the resilience of Finn's songwriting skills when Kelly takes over vocal duties on parts of this. What was well-crafted pop as a perfect Crowded House single, unfurls in a rockier style with the former leader of the Messengers at the helm. Truly, this is one of the songwriting gems of the last 25 years and a fine, fine example of exactly how to write pop that remains smart and nearly too good for the Top 40...at least in this country.

Elsewhere, Paul Kelly's "Before Too Long" chimes with the sort of effortless grace that the world's best songwriters routinely deliver. What's the takeaway here is the way the cut rides a modest hook to such success. There's a sort of casualness here that makes the track so enjoyable -- especially in this version -- and Kelly seems to be having a grand time on this one.

On the 2-CD version of Goin' Your Way, Kelly and Finn offer up Finn's take on "Not The Girl You Think You Are" from the first Crowded House "best of" compilation, along with Kelly's soaring "Love is the Law" which turns into a near-anthem here. Splendid and transcendent. If ever there was a song that you wish U2 would cover, it's this one.

Along with a trippy version of Split Enz classic "One Step Ahead", Finn also serves up a singalong take on "Better Be Home Soon" that opens up the song in ways not possible on the classic Temple of Low Men (1988) album version.

Neil Finn and Paul Kelly remain 2 of the best songwriters to ever emerge from the Southern hemisphere. And there are many reasons why both of these cats have such loyal followers and most of those reasons are on display on Goin' Your Way. Still, even if your knowledge of their respective back catalogues is shallow, you'd be well-served by either version of Goin' Your Way. This live album, in either version, shines a deserved light on the talents of these 2 artists and I think both casual and long-time fans of either one will be very happy with this release.

Goin' Your Way (Highlights) by Neil Finn and Paul Kelly is out on Friday from Omnivore Recordings. The 2-disc version of Goin' Your Way will be out on December 11 from Omnivore Recordings.