Paul Kelly & the Stormwater Boys Foggy Highway

Anyone who counts Paul Kelly as one of the most underrated singer-songwriters of our time has something new to crow about. This recording marks one of the most natural career progressions of all time, marrying the natural ache of Kelly’s voice to banjo and some of the best bluegrass music to come out of anywhere this side of Appalachia, let alone Australia. Not his first foray into Bluegrass music — that would be 1999’s Smoke — but certainly this is the record to shake up the genre and earn some much-deserved attention. Kelly, a long-time fan of the Stanley Brothers (their "Rank Stranger” is included on the 4-track bonus disc), remains the consummate singer-songwriter-storyteller and the 12 songs included here continue that trend with bleak stories and dark themes but delivered in an uplifting fashion as can only be crafted by banjo, fiddle and heartfelt harmonies. Highlights include the harmony-rich "Stumbling Block,” the buoyant "Rally Round The Drum” or the heart-wrenching "They Thought I Was Asleep” — and that’s all before the heavenly pairing of Kelly and Kasey Chambers on "You’re Learning,” which will lift your particular fog in no time. (True North)