After a rich 40-plus year long music career as a solo artist and the frontman of various groups (Paul Kelly & The Dots and The Messengers), Paul Kelly has added another solo studio album to his expansive catalogue, namely Life Is Fine. He recruited the talents of long time music friends; the sisters Vika and Linda Bull on vocals, Ashley Naylor on guitar, Bill McDonald on bass, Cameron Bruce on keys and Peter Luscombe on drums. Steve Schram co-produced the album and one of the goals that he and Paul Kelly had for the album was to capture the vividness of a live recording.
The simplistic title, itself, is enticing for its ambiguity. Life can sometimes merely be alright, ok, average, unremarkable in any way, but I like Paul Kelly’s interpretation expressed through his music, “…as in life is a fine thread.” Life is ephemeral, we live moment to moment without really knowing what could come our way, whether it is something as mundane as a ferocious cold as expressed in My Man’s Got A Cold, a lazy hazy summer holiday as in The Sequel with it’s bluesy chill out beach vibe, or something a little unnerving as conjured in I Smell Trouble as he cries out over a swelling ostinato.
Paul Kelly carefully orchestrates the path of his meandering music, giving us a satisfying shake up in Rock Out On The Sea, expressing his sentimental side in Josephina and taking time to appreciate lesser considered aspects of life as in Petrichor. After passing through various emotions we come back to song Life Is Fine. Sometimes it’s fine and at other times it’s fine.
If you’re in need of aspiration, joy and vibrancy, Paul Kelly’s Life Is Fine is a suitable antidote to a doubtful day.