We’re taking a look at the ten biggest albums from Australia’s pub-rock laureate Paul Kelly. 

There are few names more synonymous with Australian music than Paul Kelly. Over a sprawling, four-decade music career, Kelly has earned 14 Aria Awards, been inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame, won the Victorian Australian Of The Year in 2012 and has an Order of Australia.

Kelly is a lyricist that speaks to the nation. A distinctly Australian songwriter — tongue-in-cheek, tastefully self-deprecating, funny, and on occasion, completely devastating.

Here are the biggest Paul Kelly albums.

10. Wanted Man

Release Date: April 22nd, 2012
ARIA Chart Peak: 11
Weeks Spent On Chart: 10

Paul Kelly’s first solo studio album after disbanding his previous band, The Messengers. Kelly recorded Wanted Man during a stint in America. The album spawned three singles, ‘Song from the Sixteenth Floor,’ ‘Love Never Runs on Time’ and the Nick Cave collaboration ‘God’s Hotel’— though none managed to chart.

The album peaked at No. 11 on the ARIA Albums Chart and saw Kelly score a nod for Best Male Artist at the 1995 ARIA Music Awards.

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9. Seven Sonnets And A Song

Release Date: April 22nd, 2012
ARIA Chart Peak: 9
Weeks Spent On Chart: 4

A more esoteric entry in the Paul Kelly canon. Kelly composed music for seven sonnets by William Shakespeare and a poem, ‘My True Love Hath My Heart’, by Philip Sidney.

The album peaked at #9 and spent 4 weeks on the ARIA charts.

8. Spring and Fall

Release Date: October 19th, 2012
ARIA Chart Peak: 8
Weeks Spent On Chart: 4

Spring and Fall was the first album of new material from Paul Kelly in five years. It’s one of his most sublime, stark outings to date — a record that explores a love story from different points of view.

The album peaked at #8 and spent four weeks on the ARIA Chart.

7. Stolen Apples

Release Date: July 7th, 2007
ARIA Chart Peak: 8
Weeks Spent On Chart: 11

Paul Kelly’s most overtly religious record, penned mostly in his garden shed. Brooding ballads, love songs, swooning Outback narratives. It’s Paul Kelly doing what he does best.

The album debuted at #8 and would go on to spend 11 weeks on the ARIA chart.

6. …Nothing but a Dream

Release Date: August 13th, 2001
ARIA Chart Peak: 7
Weeks Spent On Chart: 11

Kelly’s first solo record since 1998’s Words and Music, 2001’s…Nothing But A Dream was a welcome return from one of Australia’s most intimidatingly prolific songwriters.

Featuring the likes of Bic Runga and Nic Cave collaborator Mick Harvey, the album spawned beloved Kelly cuts like ‘Somewhere In The City’ and ‘Would You Be My Friend?’

5. Goin’ Your Way

Release Date: November 8th, 2013
ARIA Chart Peak: 5
Weeks Spent On Chart: 19

Goin’ Your Way, a live album collaboration between Antipodeon music titans Neil Finn and Paul Kelly, was recorded live during a performance at the Sydney Opera House on March 10th, 2013.

The record debuted at No.5 on the ARIA Albums Chart. Whilst the DVD version reached No. 1 on the related Music DVD Chart.

4. Please Leave Your Light On

Release Date: July 31st, 2020
ARIA Chart Peak: 3
Weeks Spent On Chart: 4

A collaborative effort between Paul Kelly and esteemed composer Paul Grabowsky. The record features Kelly performing songs from nine of his albums, previously unreleased track ‘True to You’ and a cover of Cole Porter’s ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye,’ accompanied by Grabowsky’s piano arrangements.

“The performances are intimate, and shine a light on lyrical moments from the Kelly oeuvre,” Grabowsky said of the collaboration. “Paul is a generous collaborator, always listening closely to what I am doing, and giving me the freedom to bring my own interpretation to the songs. I think people will hear, and hopefully enjoy, the deep communication that we are bringing to the performances.”

The album peaked at #3 on the ARIA chart and won the 2020 ARIA Award for Best Jazz Album.

3. Nature

Release Date: October 12th, 2018
ARIA Chart Peak: 1
Weeks Spent On Chart: 10

Nature was the second Paul Kelly album to hit #1 on the ARIA charts. It also scored won the 2019 ARIA Award for Best Adult Contemporary Album.

Five of the songs from Nature are reworked poems written by others — Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Phillip Larkin, and Sylvia Path. The other four songs: ‘A Bastard Like Me,’ ‘Little Wolf,’ ‘Seagulls of Seattle,’ and ‘The River Song’ are original Paul Kelly poems put to music.

“What links them all is the natural world – trees, birds, animals, plants, dust, desert, water – and human nature’s small place in that world,” Paul Kelly explained of the album.

2. Songs from the South: 1985–2019

Release Date: November 15th, 2019
ARIA Chart Peak: 1
Weeks Spent On Chart: 17

Paul Kelly’s third #1 ARIA charting record. 2019’s Songs from the South: 1985–2019 is the third iteration of Paul Kelly’s debut compilation record, Songs From The South.

The second volume, Songs from the South Volume 2, was released in 2008. 2019’s version featured career-spanning highlights from Kelly’s career, including cuts from recent releases, Life Is Fine, and Nature. It also featured a brand new song ‘When We’re Both Mad & Old’ with Kasey Chambers.

The album debuted at #1 and subsequently spent 17 weeks in the ARIA music charts.

The first iteration of greatest hits compilation, released back in 1997, peaked at No. 2 on the ARIA Albums Chart. It was certified 7× platinum by 2017.

1. Life Is Fine

Hottest 100 Rank: 1
Release Date: August 11th, 2017
ARIA Chart Peak: 1
Weeks Spent On Chart: 25

Despite his numerous accolades, Paul Kelly did not score a No.1 album until 2017.

40-years into his career, Paul Kelly finally scored his first chart-topper with his 23rd studio album, Life Is Fine.

After a slew of strange releases: a collection of songs he’d been asked to sing at funerals, Death’s Dateless Night; a collection of Shakespeare sonnets set to music, Seven Sonnets & A Song. — Paul Kelly returned with Life Is Fine, his best album in years.

The album debuted at #1 and subsequently spent 25 weeks in the ARIA music charts. It also earned four awards at the ARIA Music Awards of 2017.