Leo Welch

Leo Welch
Sabougla Voices

Fat Possum Records (B00GOYHQQW)

By Georgetown Fats
May 2014

Whether it be “stepping out” on a Saturday night only to be in a church come Sunday morning, giving into your vices, or coveting your neighbor’s guitar playing skills, we all have some sinning in us. Personally, my latest sins are missing Leo “Bud” Welch’s live act when “Big” John Short had him booked in Worcester and then trying to atone with a penance of purchasing my own copy of Sabougla Voices. I couldn’t help myself - I gave into the temptation of the MP3 downloaded version via the Amazon Music Player rather than getting my disk through an independent Record Store like Dyno Records in Newburyport.

For the uninformed heathens, much like myself, at the tender age of 81 Leo “Bud” Welch has made a debut release featuring music that could get me to reconsider my agnostic ways. For you see, if at 81 one still has the ability to produce such genuine and raw gospel music, then maybe a divine source is calling all of the shots?

Opening with “Praise His Name,” an impossibly sloppy yet surgically precise gospel blues number, Welch is the genuine article. Those same musical chops capable of lifting a juke joint to a night full of corn whiskey-based depravity can also make you sweat out those same spirits when hearing the word of the supreme being.

Welch picks up an acoustic guitar, slows down the danceability and gives his testimony on “Mother Loves Her Children.” His weathered baritone voice seeps into the wide open groove created by his acoustic guitar and backing band. Chilling and challenging, it is hard not to absorb Welch’s message due to his delivery.

Having opened Sabougla Voices with the irresistibly danceable “Praise His Name,” it makes perfect sense to close out the disk with “The Lord Will Make a Way.” If the sounds by the bluesman on “The Lord Will Make a Way” do not inspire goosebumps and even momentary reflection, then one might want to consider sticking a mirror under their nose to see if they are still breathing.

Kudos to the folks at Fat Possum Records for giving a voice and support to Leo Welch and Sabougla Voices. While the Oxford Mississippi-based label has long since taken on non-blues clients, they remain an outpost for the less profitable/less commercial material.

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