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  • Vasili Papathanasopoulos


The musician has also shared a 2019 live video for Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home).

Image: Michael Hili.

Australian legend Paul Kelly has unveiled his first ever Christmas album, Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train. Boasting 22 holiday themed tracks, the album sees the celebrated musician team up with a bevy of talented vocalists, including members of his own family.

Capturing all the emotions and feelings of the holiday season, the record centres itself around what Christmas looks like in Australia, void of glistening snow and the trim of holly. The double features a number of favourite seasonal standards, a Latin hymn and a traditional Irish folk ballad, as well as a new version of Kelly's own hit, How to Make Gravy, recorded 25 years after it initial release. The musician has accompanied the release with visual for Christmas Train, originally performed by The Bellrays, enlisting iconic Australian songstress Vika to perform the track alongside him. “I’m a fan of the band The Bellrays and their raw garage-soul sound. They did a Christmas album in 2008 andChristmas Train is from that album. I thought it would suit Vika perfectly and it turns out I was right. She walked into Soundpark studio, all business, and smashed it by the second take. All the band had to do was hang on and go with her!” Kelly shares of the collaboration.

“I’ve always been interested in Christmas songs and the variety of them,” Kelly says. “There is a double-edged sword to Christmas music because every year it is everywhere, pumped to you in supermarkets and malls. There is a lot of schlock but on the other hand there are so many great Christmas songs and so much to explore. I’ve chosen songs I love, which led me often to wander off the well-worn path, then chosen singers I thought best suited to them.”

Marlon Williams, Waleed Aly, Lior, Emma Donovan, Kasey Chambers, Kate Miller-Heidke, Vika & Linda Bull, Alice Keath, Sime Nugent, Alma Zygier, Emily Lubitz, Jess Hitchcock and Dhungala Children’s Choir are all coming along for the sleigh ride, with contributions from Kelly's own family, including nephew and band-mate Dan, siblings Mary-Jo and Tony and Paul’s daughters Maddy and Memphis Kelly.

“We had Advent, the month long build-up to Christmas. There was a small crib in one of the fireplaces with a pile of straw beside it. Every time you did something good or denied yourself something you would secretly put straw in the crib so it would be filled by Christmas, when a statuette of the baby Jesus would miraculously appear in the crib. The statues of the Three Wise Men started a long way off in another part of the house, secretly moving every night along mantelpieces so they would arrive at the crib for the Epiphany on January 6. That was all part of Christmas for us. It was fun and mysterious and magical." Kelly says of his family's own Christmas traditions. “Sometimes we do it all together, sometimes the Queensland gang do it separately from the Melbourne gang, and we have the tradition of singing carols on Christmas Eve, not very reverentially.”

Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train is out now!


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