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This Album Changed My Life: Pat Kenny on ‘Foggy Highway’ by Paul Kelly

19 January 2021 | 12:56 pm | Mallory Arbour

Alt-country singer-songwriter, Pat Kenny tells us about an album that has changed his life and he's chosen Foggy Highway by Paul Kelly.

Alt-country singer-songwriter, Pat Kenny is due to release his next solo single, Fly Me to Mars later this week. The former-Australian Army Officer also recently released the EP, Spark a Flood with fellow Brisbane-based singer-songwriter Kelsey Berrington, as part of his acoustic indie/folk duo project Freight Train Foxes.

To get to know Pat Kenny a little better, we’ve ask him tell us about an album that has changed his life.

Although I spent my childhood in a regional Queensland town, being a fan of country music was never considered ‘cool’ while I was growing up. But thanks to my parents, my household was always full of music and I quickly became fascinated with songwriters like John Fogerty, Bob Dylan and Paul Kelly. I’d pull out the album booklets from the CD and tape sleeves (yes, tapes), and I’d read through them as I listened, trying my best to work out what the lyrics meant and what inspired them.

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One album that always brings me back to my childhood is Paul Kelly’s bluegrass album, Foggy Highway. I can remember countless backyard BBQs, family gatherings and Christmases where that album was in the background, acting as the soundtrack while my dad was cooking rissoles or steaks. When I was thirteen my dad would say, "Mate, can you run upstairs and swap out the discs in the 3-stack CD player?" I always knew Foggy Highway was a sure bet and, as soon as Paul Kelly’s opening acapella lines rung out, I knew dad was happy with my choice. And so was I.

To me, Foggy Highway is a masterpiece of storytelling and songwriting from start to finish and the stripped back production of the songs makes the stories come across in such a personal way. The album is mournful, joyous and insightful all at the same time. The combination of banjo, mandolin, fiddle and acoustic guitar lend their sonic voices to the storytelling, weaving in and out of each song, in support Paul Kelly’s iconic vocals.

This album is quintessential Australian country music, and it forms an integral part of my personal musical identity. As a songwriter, I often find myself revisiting Foggy Highway and becoming infatuated with it as I remember the first time I fell in love with songwriting and storytelling.

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Image: Provided