Kevin Welch,
A Patch of Blue Sky
(Music Road, 2010)

Kevin Welch is anther of those guys whose name you might not know but whose music you do.

He established himself as a Nashville songwriter before he began recording and his songs have been recorded by everyone from Waylon Jennings to Patty Loveless to Trisha Yearwood. (Readers of this site might have seen my feature on Welch that ran Nov. 18, 2006.) These days, he's known not only as one of finest songwriters but as a great performer of those songs. A Patch of Blue Sky is his first solo album in eight years; his other records during that period were trio albums with Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin.

On it, he has assembled a group of deeply felt songs that capture the way we live today. Welch speaks to our hopes and desires, catches our many moods from loving to lonely, and shows us who we are holding up a mirror to our illusions, making us see them as they are. It's a fine piece of work. With rich arrangements that meld banjos with cellos, electric guitars with harmoniums and Wurlitzer organs, the songs are perfectly framed. Welch's mournful and rich singing keeps not just the lyrics but the mood of the lyrics in the forefront; he has a way of delivering a line that sounds casual, half-spoken, half-sung but always enhances the song.

The songs on this album are mostly downbeat and won't fit the Nashville song machine that Welch deliberately walked away from several years ago, choosing not to participate in it any more, but that's Nashville's loss. He doesn't write or sing to formula. As he says in "Maryville," "I'm a stranger wherever I go, but I see what I see and I know what I know."

In A Patch of Blue Sky, Kevin Welch makes us see it and know it also. Listen to this CD and you'll be glad he did.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

12 June 2010

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