I don't have the Expression 2, but I have had my expression for a long time.
Kerning and Welding are two different things.
Kerning is moving the shapes/letters around by small degrees.
Welding is merging the shapes/letters into one piece or cut.
I know that welding can be done with Design Studio and the Gypsy which have to be purchased.
Welding can be done with Cricut Craft Room (CCR) which is a free program.
Go to ARS Cricut Cutting Guide | Above Rubies Studio
and download the cutting guide. I even have the app on my I phone. It really helps when using different types of papers. Also, making sure the blade is in correctly and sharp helps get good cuts.
I cut vinyl all the time. Read the package for the correct pressure and blade settings. There is one setting that will cut the image out like a sticker, the other setting lets you pull all the excess vinyl off the backing paper and just leave the cut image which you pick up with transfer paper and then stick to your wall or item.
If I understand, cutting around the word. That sounds like layering to me. You'd cut your word in say white, and then cut the shadow in black. The Shadow layer would be a bit larger than your word, then glue the white to the black and you're set.
I am sure I didn't explain well. Look on you-tube, there are tons of videos on vinyl, welding and such.
Hope I helped a little.