The album opens with some ominous piano. It’s obvious that not everything is fine. As Paul Kelly explains, “I worried about Life Is Fine as a title because life is not fine for everyone. But I like the original meaning of fine, as in life is a fine thread. We never know what is just around the corner.”
Life is precarious, though you can rely on Paul Kelly – “I’m a man with a plan,” he states in Firewood And Candles – but his songs are filled with surprising twists and turns; a Springsteen-esque guitar solo in Rising Moon, a delightfully dreamy chorus in Leah: The Sequel, while My Man’s Got A Cold, sung by Vika Bull, is a wry look at the debilitating disease that is man flu.
Sonically, Life Is Fine is a throwback to The Coloured Girls of the ’80s, recalling albums such as Under The Sun. It’s a collaborative affair – Kelly wrote four songs with former Ferret Billy Miller – and a muscular sound, with a rumbling rhythm section sweetened by the sublime backing vocals of Vika and Linda Bull. “I might live till 100, I might die soon,” Kelly declares in Rising Moon. Whatever happens, his songs will live on forever.
Life Is Fine is out August 11 on vinyl and CD, via EMI/Universal.