Widely considered Down Under’s best songwriter, Paul Kelly, who used to front Paul Kelly and the Messengers before going solo in 1991, had difficulty catching the same high-profile wave that brought us mega-Aussie acts like INXS and Midnight Oil in the late ’80s. But now he has at last truly arrived on our shores.
Kelly has a distinct talent for telling stories through piercing lyrics and contagious folk-based melodies. On Wanted Man he has gracefully woven blues, jazz and power-pop into a lush tapestry of songs. Now if only he can find the audience he deserves. On “Maybe this Time for Sure,” a paean to optimism, Kelly sings, “Maybe this time for sure/Things are gonna work out different/Not the way they did before.” Let’s hope so. (Vanguard)