Kevin Welch

Millionaire

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Backed by a Copenhagen-based band he dubs the Danes, Kevin Welch rocks out a little more than usual on his fifth album, Millionaire. This unit has mastered the kind of rock shuffle for which the Rolling Stones are known; you get the feeling they could encore with a good version of "Honky Tonk Women." The arrangements make a good basis for Welch's songs, a typically high-quality collection of tunes that reflect on life and love. Welch's characters, who usually speak in the first person, are among life's losers, particularly the unhappy participant in the Witness Protection Program who narrates "Witness," but many of them are redeemed by love. Indeed, there are quite a few outright love songs, including the title song, "Choose to Believe," and "I Can Sure Love You," with an excellent cover of Van Morrison's "Queen of the Slipstream" joining them. It's good there's so much true love, since life seems desperate without it, especially on "Killing Myself." These songs are more impressive than the symbolic ones, such as "Long Cold Train" and "The Sun King and the Winter Moon," but the band's performances make interesting listening even of tunes with somewhat muddled lyrics. Welch, meanwhile, is becoming a better and more expressive vocalist, which also helps put across his material. On earlier records, you yearned to hear what a real singer could do with his compositions, but on Millionaire he has come into his own as a performer.

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