Seven Sonnets And A Song

Paul Kelly

Seven Sonnets And A Song
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Seven Sonnets And A Song

Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly is one of Australia’s pre-eminent singer-songwriters and wordsmiths, so it’s no surprise that his most treasured possession is his 20kg three volumes of the ‘Collected works of William Shakespeare.’

The works within those pages have served as a deep influence throughout his 30 year career and have now found more direct expression in Seven Sonnets & A Song.

Seven Sonnets & A Song features Paul singing lead vocals on 6 of Shakespeare’s sonnets and a song from Twelfth Night. The only non-Shakespearian piece is “My True Love Hath My Heart,” written by his contemporary Sir Philip Sidney and sung here by Vika Bull.

The sonnets were recorded in various studios over the last 18 months. Musicians performing on them include Lucky Oceans and Alice Keath, as well as members of Paul’s band, Peter Luscombe, Bill McDonald, Ash Naylor, Cameron Bruce, and Vika and Linda Bull.

Track listing:

  1. Sonnet 138
  2. Sonnet 73
  3. Sonnet 18
  4. My True Love Hath My Heart
  5. Sonnets 44 And 45
  6. Sonnet 60
  7. O Mistress Mine (Clown’s Song from Twelfth Night)




To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the great wordsmith is honoured by one of Australia’s great songwriters, Paul Kelly, with this collaboration. In Seven Sonnets & A Song, Kelly has gathered fellow artists including Ash Naylor (guitar), Peter Luscombe (drums), and Vika and Linda Bull (vocal harmonies).

The song that is alluded to in the title is ‘My True Love Hath My Heart’, which was written by Sir Philip Sidney, one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. There is a sparceness of sound on this recording which is testament to the collaborators’ intention of highlighting Shakepeare’s exceptional use of language through the lyrics. The first sonnet included has a breezy jazz feel to it, and Sonnet 18, arguably Shakespeare’s most famous sonnet, is where the true synergy between Shakespeare and Kelly is revealed, in part due to Alice Keath’s bongo and vocals. This short collection closes with ‘O Mistress Mine,’ recorded in 2012 with Dan Kelly and J. Walker.

Seven Sonnets & A Song is a thought-provoking and brilliantly realised work.

Michael Awosoga-Samuel is a bookseller and music specialist at Readings Carlton.

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