Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen

"Death’s Dateless Night"

(Gawd Aggie); Ballads

By ​Phil ​Bennett

Continuing with his recent penchant for collaborative recordings, Paul Kelly’s latest release sees him teaming up with the master of understated accompaniment, Charlie Owen, and what a team they make.

The title comes from Shakespeare and refers to the unending night which waits for us all, a direct allusion to the album’s concept as a collection of songs that people request to be played at funerals.

The selection they’ve come up with is surprisingly varied – not all tears in beers here – and it ranges from Townes Van Zandt’s To Live Is To Fly to Cole Porter’s Don’t Fence Me In and the Beatles’ Let It Be.

There’s a lovely warmth in these recordings with its stark production ethic capturing the sound of two guys in a room doing what they do best – singin’ and playin’.

The only other embellishment is the inclusion of some subtle vocal assistance from Kelly’s sister and daughters which makes for a delightful touch.

There are no dramatic rewrites, no experimental shifts, simply a magic slice of simple music making.

Which is all you require from artists of this stature who have such an innate understanding of their craft.

Kelly’s voice sounds like he’s in your parlour singing right in front of you, jacket and top button undone, right hand in coat pocket, while Owen’s superb musical support, whether it be the darkly moody strum of Pretty Bird Tree or the playful dobro fills that decorate Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor, is simply faultless.

The album closes with one of the grandest curtain closers of all, Hank Williams’ Angel Of Death with its final question: “When the lights all grow dim and the dark shadows creep And then your loved ones are gathered to weep Can you face them and say with your dying breath That you’re ready to meet the angel death?”

Thought provoking and mood invoking.

​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.