It has been over 13 years since Kevin Kern released his solo debut In The Enchanted Garden. Since then Kern has remained loyal to Real Music with Endless Blue Sky representing his eighth original recording for the label. For those of you that love his soft romantic melodies, you will not be disappointed as Kern has become one of the genre’s most reliable and consistent recording artists. With the return of the organic touch via guest musician versus the prefabricated strings, Kern has brought back some of the magic we experienced on The Winding Path. As soon as you hear the opening notes of “Joy Of The Journey” it will create a sense of déjà vu as well as the warmth of a familiar old friend as does most of the album which overall is a good thing most of the time. However, the exceptional draw factor on this album is when Kern collaborates with fellow musicians as reflected on tracks such as “Caring Friend”. With Kern caressing his piano and Dean Magraw’s deft touch on the acoustic guitar at about the two and half minute mark, this results in a wonderful enchanting duo. This formula is repeated on “The Glistening Pond” that will only compel you to think of autumn days gone by of you skipping a smooth pebble across the mirrored surface of the pond with the emerald blue skies from above reflected in the shimmering waters. Even better there is the threesome on “Velvet Green” with Kern’s piano work complimented by the strings of a violin and cello from Jill Olson and Rebecca Arons respectively. This is not to say that listening to Kern go solo is not successful. Far from the truth as reflected by the almost jubilant melody of “The Skipping Song” or the more reflective closer “Always Near”. However, collaborating with other musicians certainly seems to bring out the more adventurous side of Kevin and it would be nice to see more of this. While 2003’s The Winding Path remains Kern’s pinnacle recording to date, Endless Blue Sky continues to hold Kern in high regard. Affectionate and friendly, Kern continues to create music that has the warmth and protection of a lover’s long deep embrace. And while the music at times may sound a little too familiar perhaps that’s what makes Kern such an appealing and successful artist. Come and listen and dream of endless blue skies.