Simple Things was very definitely the beginning of a “new” era for Carole King, one in which she hoped to focus on with her husband. Sadly, the song “Hold On” seems prophetically written for him with the line, “Hold on, and all the dark forces will be gone.” It didn’t work out that way, though, for within a year after their marriage Evers died of a heroin overdose.
The two had recorded the follow-up to Simple Things, titled Welcome Home, in January 1978. Evers passed on March 18, 1978 according to the dedication King wrote for him when the album was released. Although Welcome Home does not contain a great deal of material by him, there is still a great deal of joy in its songs, which again focus on the gentle “simple things” in life.
One of the more amusing tracks on Welcome Home is “Disco Tech.” I am not really sure if King expected this to actually catch on with the disco crowd or if the whole thing was meant as satire. It certainly stands out like the proverbial sore thumb among the ten songs which make up the album. Much more to my taste are “Venusian Diamond,” “Welcome Home,” and “Sunbird.” As King writes in her liner notes, “Venusian Diamond” is a somewhat explicit Beatles tribute, while Evers wrote the lyrics to “Sunbird,” which are quite moving.
The release of Welcome Home must have been an emotionally bittersweet moment for King. But as anyone who is familiar with the story of her life knows, she is nothing if not a survivor. Still, it was inevitable that Touch The Sky would reflect the sad events of the previous year. That is not to say it is a “morose” album, which is actually a little surprising. Listen to the lyrics and consider the title, though, and it is pretty obvious that there were things on her mind that could only be expressed through song.
Even though King had moved out of “city life” a couple of years earlier, of the three late '70s albums Touch The Sky has the most pronounced country feel. Not that it is country music by any stretch, but there are definitely country elements to it. There is also some fine jazz on display. Somehow in the song “Move Lightly” she manages to blend these two styles in a very unexpected, and satisfying manner.
Touch The Sky was virtually ignored upon release, it took a critical beating, and peaked at number 104 on the Billboard chart. To be honest, I think it was just dismissed out of hand with nobody even bothering to listen to it. There are some great songs here. Both “Dreamlike I Wander” and “You Still Want Her” remind me of what Van Morrison was doing around the same time with his Common One album. “Passing of the Days” is the most “country” song on the album, and it is a nice sound. What is striking about this record is how varied its music is and how well it all fits together. Touch The Sky is a vastly underrated entry in the Carole King discography.