A Patch of Blue Sky
Maybe’s it’s Kevin Welch’s migration from the mild (though recently wet) climate of Nashville to the more extreme conditions of a log cabin near Austin that has him musing on the way the weather mirrors human emotions. From the album title onwards, Welch’s first solo record in eight years is a storm-driven ride through floods and heatwaves, rain and wind-blown bushfires and moments of hope amid the madness.
Two of the songs, “The Great Emancipation” and “Marysville” were inspired by the extreme weather hitting Australia during Welch’s trip there in early 2009, including a bushfire that killed one in five of the population of Marysville, a small town outside Melbourne. “We witnessed raw compassion, heartbreak and true courage,” Welch comments.
But the record is not a concept album and goes far beyond weather-related phenomena. The most purely beautiful song is “New Widow’s Dream”, a simple poem by Welch set to music by his son Dustin that considers the shared experiences of young war widows. “Andaman Sea”, in contrast to the weather songs, is about how sometimes emotions can be strikingly different to the environment in which you find yourself. Welch describes it as “broken hearts in paradise”.
The opening track, “Come A Rain”, is a discussion of Welch’s impressions of dead icons, ranging from Woody Guthrie and Edith Piaf to Jesus and Rasputin.
It’s a good, solid album of Americana, without gimmicks, self-produced by Welch on Music Road Records, the new label that’s making a home for artists who want to do their own thing. That definitely seems to be a fit for Welch, who’s moved away from Nashville and away from the success of Kane Welch Kaplin (though not entirely, as Fats Kaplin is still there, playing pedal steel on the album).
A Patch of Blue Sky won’t blow anyone away, but it deserves a decent amount of time in anyone’s stereo and promises more for the future.
Release date: July 12
Kevin Welch will be touring the UK and Ireland in October. Details will appear in the gig guide as soon as they’re available.