Kevin Welch has built a career both as a songwriter, respected and covered by his peers, and a solo and collaborative recording and touring artist in his own right. It’s his songs that are his calling cards, that and an open approach to the way he dresses and dances with each of them. On his latest solo album, his first in eight years, Welch takes the lead on ten songs, each with their own unique flavour and story, forged from his highly crafted songwriting.
‘Blue and Lonesome’ sets the scene with a light musical touch over a slinky, swampy groove, immediately highlighting the superb production, allowing space and open movement in the songs, and the quality of the musicians he’s surrounded himself with. On ‘Just Because It Was A Dream’ he sings “Just because it was a dream that don’t mean it wasn’t true”. It has a similar emotional weight to Dylan’s ‘Trying To Get To Heaven’, in the way it tugs at heartstrings with perfectly constructed lines. The pleasant surprises start to reveal themselves with ‘High Heeled Shoes’, a John Hadley-penned jazzy shuffle in the vein of Tom Waits in a smoky juke joint. ‘True Morning’ is a sweet and aching, soulful vocal from Welch and a great example of his ability to write and sing songs that match his voice as it has aged.
The closer and title track is a wonderfully wistful song. It paints a literal picture of a storm-generated dust cloud, but as he sings “My bags were packed up, sitting in your front porch light, I tried my love but I never really stood a chance, every time I hear that song, there’s nothing I can do but dance,” one gets the sense he’s also singing about the life of a travelling musician, drawn to the music and the allure of the open road. Dust Devil proves Welch is still making the right choices and, as an album, it’s his finest solo effort to date.