Paul Kelly's first American release on A&M just happens to be his most valiant effort. Gossip bursts at the seams with blustery, distinguished tunes captivating both the somberness and the intrigue thrown forward from this fine Australian storyteller. His longing for the past, whether it's the simplicity of adolescence or the rekindling of a failed relationship, is revealed in startling clarity through dark-toned guitar and lonely harmonica. Kelly's anecdotes are far from the run-of-the-mill type, since he has a way of expressing mood by shaping both his words and his instruments to the situations he sings about. On "Last Train to Heaven," his lyrics are sparse and repetitive, but the steel guitar conjures up a hollow, distant feeling. In more intricate songs, like "Darling It Hurts," Kelly's pain can be felt as he describes an ex-girlfriend of his who has turned to prostitution. Many of the themes here deal with the "down on your luck" character, weighted down from small-town life or the loss of a sweetheart. Never dry or boring, all the songs from Gossip involve an introspection into the lifestyles of many different people, sometimes with remarkable resemblances. This true-to-life approach to Paul Kelly's songs is what separates him from other musicians of the same manner. And, like other Aussie artists, Kelly remains to be influenced by other European or North American musicians or styles, making Gossip a select group of absorbing songs.