Welch is a name to be reckoned with in songwriting circles. Some of Country music's biggest names have came knocking for his services while he has remained fairly anonymous outwith America, retaining a cult status in Europe. This is Welch's first solo release since 2001 and one that has those in the know wetting their lips in anticipation. The 9 years between solo releases have not been barren with Welch teaming up with fellow songwriters Kieran Kane and Fats Kaplin for several award winning and critically acclaimed albums on both sides of the Atlantic which also saw the guys become regular visitors to these shores when touring.
Welch took on the production duties himself and he has delivered a wonderful sounding record with some moments of real beauty that prove the demands for his talents are fully justified. The wonderful opening track Come A Rain is lyrical roll call with the great and the good like Elvis, Buddha, Hendrix and Jesus all being name checked on this humorous skewed take on life. Inspired stuff.
Welch has also called in an impressive supporting cast for this album with the wonderful Eliza Gilkyson adding her breathy vocals to the lilting Ardaman Sea while his daughter, Savannah, pops up on a few tracks alongside her band mates in The Trishas. While Welch flirts with country, his sound has a more bluesy edge than many of the acts that have recorded his songs, which gives this album a far more rootsy feel than many of his contemporaries. The Great Emancipation is a perfect showcase for Welch's voice and lyrical dexterity. A dark tale that sits in contrast with the beautiful melody, but as with most of this album, it just works.
My own personal preference is when the songs are stripped back and restrained, and for me this is where Welch excels, producing what are arguable the albums two finest moments. New Widow's Dream and That's How It Feels are both breathtaking in every aspect, a masterclass in the art of songwriting. It took a few plays to get into this album, some records are like that, but the rewards are worth it as each play reveals something new. I can heartily recommend this album.
You can catch Kevin live when he visits the UK & Ireland in October.