Paul Kelly releases surprise new album ‘Forty Days’

He will also announce a new studio album next week

Paul Kelly has released a surprise album, ‘Forty Days’, which comprises recordings of original tracks and covers he’s performed while in quarantine. Find the full tracklist below.

The Australian icon has been recording and sharing tracks on social media since March, including a large handful of covers, many from well-known artists who have passed away over the past few months such as John Prine and Bill Withers.

Many the tracks on the album reference themes and subjects experienced by many during the pandemic, including home cooking, dry pubs, hope, insomnia and separation. Some of the album’s tracks are poems, including Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing With Feathers” and Wislawa Szymborska’s “Four A.M.”


Stream the album here:

In a statement, Kelly said the album’s title is a reference to how ships were required to quarantine for 40 days during the Black Death before passengers could safely disembark.

“I noticed that the recordings spanned a period of roughly forty days and was aware that ‘forty days’ in Italian is ‘quaranta giorni’, the origin of our word ‘quarantine’,” he said.

“So I had the [quarantine performance] videos converted and edited to audio files to make a kind of document. The recordings are rough and ready but, to paraphrase George Jones, ‘Ragged but right is ok with me.’”

Kelly has also shared a Q&A video detailing what he’s been doing during lockdown, and what he does and doesn’t miss about the outdoors. Watch it below:


Kelly has also said he’ll be sharing details on a new studio album next week. The currently untitled record will be a follow-up to his 2019 studio album ‘Thirteen Ways To Look At Birds’.

The tracklist for Paul Kelly’s ‘Forty Days’ is: 

  1. ‘Pub With No Beer’ – Gordon Noel Parsons
  2. ‘September 1, 1939’ (extract) – W H Auden
  3. ‘Hey Good Lookin” – Hank Williams
  4. ‘You and Sarajevo’ – Bruce Dawe
  5. ‘Grandma’s Hands’ – Bill Withers
  6. ‘Paradise’ – John Prine
  7. ‘Hope Is The Thing With Feathers’ – Emily Dickinson
  8. ‘Everything is Plundered’ – Anna Akhmatova
  9. ‘Passed Over’ – Paul Kelly
  10. ‘Thoughts In The Middle Of The Night’ – Paul Kelly
  11. ‘Four A.M.’ – Wislawa Szymborska
  12. ‘Sonnet 73’ – Paul Kelly / William Shakespeare
  13. ‘Quarantine’ – Eavan Boland
  14. ‘My Island Home’ – Neil Murray
  15. ‘Stumbling Block’ – Paul Kelly

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