Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Leo Welch: “Sabougla Voices” (2014) CD Review

If you have creative and artistic desires, and you’re getting down because things haven’t work out yet, don’t give up. It’s never too late. Leo Welch proves this with his debut album, Sabougla Voices. Leo Welch is eighty-one years old.

Listening to this album, I kept forgetting about his age. I mean, certainly his age lends that great feel of experience and wisdom which always helps with the blues, giving authority to the voice, to the lyrics. But this is also a voice that is not lacking in energy or strength or vitality.

If this kind of music had been played in the church I attended as a child, hell, I might still be going. Songs like “His Holy Name” had me smiling, and dancing in my apartment, and feeling so good. This is gospel, but even more importantly, this is blues.

“Praise His Name”

Leo Welch kicks off his debut album with “Praise His Name,” a very cool blues rock tune led by a nice hook on electric guitar. He sings, “I don’t know what you come to do,” echoed by some nice backing vocals. Simple lyrics, to be sure, but that’s totally fine. This is about the feel, the atmosphere. And man, I love when he lets that note on “Oh” hang. The song ends with the repeated line “I come to praise his name,” with the backing vocalists echoing “his name.”

“You Can’t Hurry God”

“You Can’t Hurry God” has a fun rhythm, and also features some nice work on piano. He sings, “You can’t hurry/He’ll be there/You don’t have to worry/He may not come when you want him/But,” and then leaves a great pause before singing, “he’s right on time.” This is a short tune, and fades out so soon.

“Me And My Lord”

“Me And My Lord” has a great loose blues vibe that I love. The backing vocalists sound like they’re actually physically behind him, farther from the microphone, which helps make the song feel more immediate, just more real (you know?). It gets a bit repetitive, but it’s really about creating a certain vibe, a certain groove, and then living within it, working within it, rejoicing within it.

“Mother Loves Her Children”

“Mother Loves Her Children” is one of my favorites, with one of those gorgeous mean acoustic blues grooves. The song is about how a mother’s love is unconditional, which is something we all need. “Mother loves her children all the time/It’s no matter what the crime/Mother always said this child is mine.”

“Somebody Touched Me”

I particularly love Leo Welch’s vocal delivery on “Somebody Touched Me.” This is another of the CD’s highlights. I also dig the backing vocalists repeating the title line, giving a steady, unvarying response – allowing Leo’s vocals to have even more character, to find great peaks and valleys.

“A Long Journey”

“A Long Journey” is great slow blues, with such a heartfelt, beautiful vocal performance, making this yet one more highlight. In this one he sings, “I’m going on a long, long journey” and “I’m going to lay my, my burden down/Going on home and wear my crown.” He ends it with a sweet, satisfied “All right.”

CD Track List

  1. Praise His Name
  2. You Can’t Hurry God
  3. Me And My Lord
  4. Take Care Of Me Lord
  5. Mother Loves Her Children
  6. Praying Time
  7. Somebody Touched Me
  8. A Long Journey
  9. His Holy Name
  10. The Lord Will Make A Way


Joining Leo Welch on this album are Martha Conley on backing vocals, Laverne Conley on backing vocals, Andrew Bryant on drums and organ, Eric Carlton on piano and organ, Jimbo Mathus on guitar, Matt Patton on bass and guitar, and Bronson Tew on bass.

Sabougla Voices is scheduled to be released on January 7, 2014 on Big Legal Mess Records.

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