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The Sydney Morning Herald


Author: Bernard Zuel
Date: 24/07/2010
Words: 487
Source: SMH
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Spectrum
Page: 19

I Will Love You at All

(Flippin Yeah/MGM)



Dan Kelly's Dream



Everyone loves a wit, but there's a limit. First, you can't be too smart or too quick too often, as that suggests you think you're better than the rest of us. Then there's the fact that even in admiration of your wit there's a caveat: funny hides quality better than any disguise. And humour in song - like bright melodies - isn't respected nearly as much as the serious and heavy.

Dan Kelly can sing, he can write, he can play. And do them all well. His problem? Dan Kelly is also a smart arse. A well-read, tuned-in, articulate and good-looking smart arse who tosses off characters and situations that can skip back and forth over the line between insight and parody, dry and dirty, childlike and childish.

He gets called smug and superior and a dilettante but I like him. He makes me laugh - sometimes at the gags, sometimes at the audacity. He makes me smile at the pop cultural references: taking in hoods in hoodies and Sam and Dave; Schapelle Corby and The Watchtower salesmen; hanging with Bindi Irwin and dancing to Stravinsky. He has me nodding at the religious connections and admiring how he plays the Dylan card furiously (from the album title to about half the song titles alone on this album) without ever being a Mini-Me. And did I mention he makes me laugh?

But here's the bit you could miss as you're admiring the

words - Kelly's songs (and, on this album, the arrangements) are just as sharp and varied, whether it's the Kinks-like quick shuffle of The Decommissioner, the sliding funk of the title track or the surf-garage twirl of Stretching Out. In the glammy power pop of A Classical DJ at Dandenong Station, Kelly channels the glitter as comfortably as he dons the Paul Simon bounce of Gap Year Blues. Smart (arse) boy.

Darren Hanlon, another Queenslander moved south (Sydney for him, while Kelly took off to Melbourne), is more inclined to the droll than the gag - and on this album there's far more sadness than gladness - but he's another whose facility with a tune can get lost in the potency of his tales and wordplay.

He does small-scale but potent, revisiting a home once shared with an ex and finding the new wallpaper and floorboards too strong a metaphor for the life replaced. He asks questions like "what is the polite time for waiting to undress?" and says "last year escaped by the window/this year is going for a song" with resignation. And does them all in sweetly low-key songs that touch on folk and country and even the kind of pop that would have been found when George Formby was a lad. Even when a little subdued, we're lucky to have his kind around.

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