Kevin Welch has already lived a half dozen lifetimes in his career. He toured the honky tonk circuit for five years, worked for a decade as a staff songwriter (Waylon Jennings, Don Williams, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood and many more recorded his songs), got a major label deal, started the Dead Reckoning label which spawned the collective A Night of Reckoning, recorded three albums and nabbed two Duo/Group Americana Honors nominations with Kane Welch Kaplin and three more albums under his own name, and earned the respect and admiration of some of the most potent figures in the industry.
Not bad for high school grad with one semester of music college under his belt. Welch's last album under his own name, 2002's excellent "Millionaire," was followed by his successful recording/touring stint with KWK, resulting in an eight-year gap in his personal discography. Thankfully that drought has ended with "A Patch of Blue Sky," a textbook example of everything that Welch does to near perfection.
He opens with Come a Rain, a brilliant history lesson with a propulsively moody soundtrack and a lyrical word association device that has Warren Zevon howling somewhere in the great beyond ("Kurosawa was a samurai, Achilles was a gimp/Django was a miracle, Rasputin was a gimp..."). It's a stellar start to an album that moves effortlessly from strength to strength, from the gospel folk balladry of The Great Emancipation to the powerful fare-thee-well shanty of Andaman Sea to the crystalline heartbreak of New Widow's Dream to the majestic roots anthemics of the title track; Rodney Crowell, David Wilcox and James Taylor are all shedding a tear and singing hosannas to Welch's limitless gifts.
The CD proves talent is genetic, with appearances from Welch's son Dustin and daughter Savannah (and her band, The Trishas), but most of all it is pure evidence of the timeless beauty and scuffed wisdom in Kevin Welch's songs.