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Just what every music critic needs; a form guide on the back of the booklet. I donít think Robbie Waterhouse framed the market though; theyíve got the favourite at seven-to-four and one of my favourite tracks, The Gatekeeper, at eight-to-one. Juicy odds for a delightful fiddle adventure that Iíll wager will charm all who make the wise decision to gamble on this CD. Admittedly it comes in at a mere 57 seconds, but that sounds like a winning time to me.

Itís far from the only winner here, however. Paul Kelly is such a suitable choice for this soundtrack. I can easily imagine Paul and his musical (and not at all silent) partner, Gerry Hale, busking these pleasant tunes down at the dog track.

Letís face it, greyhound racing isnít all that glamorous; not quite the Sport of Kings. And Kelly isnít all that glamorous either; not quite the archetypal pop star. Yet he writes some royal melodies. Similar to his personality, theyíre down to earth, unpretentious and immensely likeable. Itís true that he occasionally flirts with an overly folksy banality, but when in form, thereís the length of the straight between the musicality of his work and mere bush poetry-inĖsong. Here Kelly manages to dig deep into musical roots and top dress it with a pop sensibility. The gentle ironies, the caveats and contemplation of Be Careful What Your Pray For and Would You Be My Friend, are closer to Bob Dylan than John Williamson.

Haleís contribution should not be underestimated either. And not just because this soundtrack was recorded in his ďshedĒ. The majority of the tracks credit him as co-writer and heís responsible for nearly all the instrumentation. He has a ball with strings on this album, contributing guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and double bass. All recorded wonderfully raw and honest, providing tangy twang of the most endearing kind. Much of the record is in fact instrumental, with Kellyís laid-back vocal sharing the melodic spotlight with Haleís plucks and frets and bows. Kelly hasnít got the greatest vocal technique on the planet, with neither great range nor mellifluous timbre to recommend it. Thereís plenty of character though, and his voice is perfect for his likeable refrains, the mark of the quintessential singer-songwriter.

The jangling instrumentation from Hale, and the tuneful compositions give the album a neat conformity, whilst the sheer strength of the writing never allows for tedium. Some tracks come out of the barriers running; grabbing our attention like a lure to a greyhound; whilst others methodically, and metaphorically, find their feet before gathering momentum with fantastic fiddling or jaunty guitars and banjos.

Although there is an ironic edge to the soundtrack, at its core it is tremendously amiable and charming. Anyone who emerges the other side of a listen without a fillip of exuberance should check they havenít been doped.
Brad Green

Published September 20, 2001

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Read Andrew L. Urban's INTERVIEW with David Field and Alkinos Tsilimidos

Track 11 - The Gatekeeper
Track 1 - Careful What You Pray For
Track 4 - You Canít Take It With You

TITLE: Silent Partner

ID: 24353 55692

MUSIC BY: Paul Kelly and Gerry Hale


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