*** 1/2PAUL KELLY & THE MESSENGERS. "Under the Sun." A&M. To the list of songwriters who are equally at home in the first or third person, who are in command of a range of classic pop styles to be absorbed and contorted for their own ironic purposes, to the list that includes names like Costello and Hiatt--add Kelly, if you haven't already.
The Australian's second American release is yet another winning grab-bag of genres and characters, and proves that Kelly (who plays tonight at Club Lingerie) is a genuine Populist in the best sense: He cares enough about common people to write with unusual compassion but is detached enough an onlooker to be honest, which in many cases translates to just plain being sad.