As the 1970s came to an end, Carole King had reached the point in her career where she could fill concert halls due to the quality of her past material and her vast commercial appeal. Her albums continued to be moderately successful but her high charting, multi-platinum sales days were a thing of the past.
Touch The Sky was recorded during 1979 and released during June of that year. Her husband, Rick Evers, had died the previous year and she entered the studio with that event fairly fresh in her mind. She traveled to Austin, Texas, to record and used a number of musicians who were a part of Jerry Jeff Walker’s backing band, which gave some of the tracks a country flavor.
She used no cowriters this time around, and so was solely responsible for the album’s ten tracks. The good news right out of the gate was she was listed as a piano player and guitarist again. On her last album she was only listed only as the vocalist.
King produced a competent, if not spectacular album. It was a ho-hum affair commercially, reaching only number 104 on Billboard's Pop Album Chart. It remains one of her most difficult albums to find, as it has been out of print for years in the United States and the Japanese edition is extremely pricey.
Most of the tracks contain some worthwhile attributes. Overall, all the elements are there but the album just does not completely gel as did her better releases.
Given her personal issues at the time, the album’s first track, “Time Gone By,” starts the music on a surprisingly positive note. It has an anthem-like quality and the melody is memorable.
It is the center of the album that comes closest to returning King to the glory of her past. “You Still Want Her” ranks among her best ballads. The melody is sophisticated and complex, the vocal emotional, with the dominant instrument a haunting guitar. ”Passing Of The Days” is a fun filled romp, the likes of which had been missing on many of her more recent releases. “Crazy” is a light rocker where she expressed her feelings about suburbia.
The album ends on a strong note. “Seeing Red” is a heartfelt ode to the plight of Native Americans.
Touch The Sky was a better album than its reception implied. It remains an intelligent and likeable release, and at times during an artist’s career, that is enough.