All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Leo Welch: Sebougla Voices

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
For decades, singer, guitarist, fiddler and harmonica player Leo Welch has played and sung fertile, deep South country blues and gospel at smalltown picnics and parties in and around his hometown of Sabougla in north central Mississippi, where he also leads the local gospel group Leo Welch & The Rising Souls, and belongs to the Skuna Valley Male Chorus and the Sebougla Voices vocal group. On Sabougla Voices, titled to honor these roots and their attendant ghosts, "Bud" Welch stomps and roars like Howlin' Wolf through this once-in-a-lifetime electric gospel-blues debut at 81 years young.

The raw emotion that haunts these Voices is more than primal: Call-and-response vocals toss each verse and chorus to a fevered pitch while bass and drums pound out a two-step rhythm that simultaneously keeps time and underlines the guitar and vocal lines. Keyboardist Eric Carlton, bassists Matt Patton and Bronson Tew, and roots-rock guitarist Jimbo Mathus (whose multitudinous projects include the legendary Squirrel Nut Zippers), also raise their voices in Welch's most godly racket.

"Somebody Touched Me" echoes the gospel classic "Down by the Riverside" but rendered through cranked-up amps in screaming electric blues guitar and Welch's ragged gospel shout. Lyrically, "Take Care of Me Lord" and "Praying Time" do little more than shout their titles over and over, but the repetition only seems to drive their intensity hotter and harder. Fans of Holmes Brothers will enjoy "You Can't Hurry God," which adds piano that brings Saturday night boogie-woogie together with Sunday morning worship.

Welch opens this service with the frantically hardscrabble "Praise His Name," carving it out of the silence with the rough edge of his vocal and guitar, which are pretty much one and the same. This music is basic; the magic comes from its passionate abandonment to the spirit—whether it's the spirit of the music or the spirit of the name, both spirits sound and feel one and the same.

No words can do justice to the eternal blue flame that burns through Welch in "Mother Loves Her Children," classic Mississippi delta blues in form, content and execution. The honest joy and pain in his quivering yet vibrant vocal nails this to the ground, and you right along with it. Sabougla Voices closes with "The Lord Will Make a Way," a song of faith through every storm plaintively sung in Welch's voice and acoustic guitar.

"I believe in the Lord, but the blues speaks to life, too," Welch testifies. "Blues has a feeling like gospel—they just don't have a book."

Track Listing: Praise His Name; You Can't Hurry God; Me and My Lord; Take Care of Me Lord; Mother Loves Her Children; Praying Time; Somebody Touched Me; A Long Journey; His Holy Name; The Lord Will Make a Way.

Personnel: Andrew Bryant: drums, organ; Eric Carlton: organ, piano; Jimbo Mathus: guitar; Matt Patton: bass; Bronson Tew: bass; Leo Welch: guitar, harmonica, vocals.

Title: Sebougla Voices | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Big Legal Mess Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Sebougla Voices

Sebougla Voices

Big Legal Mess Records


Related Articles

Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Denmark I Was Born CD/LP/Track Review
In Denmark I Was Born
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983 CD/LP/Track Review
In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read A Year Ago Today CD/LP/Track Review
A Year Ago Today
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Dreams of Belonging CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Ravensburg CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Affirmative" CD/LP/Track Review Affirmative
by Jim Olin
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "The Princess" CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Calvins Toboggan" CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 16, 2017
Read "Najwa" CD/LP/Track Review Najwa
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "Such A Sky" CD/LP/Track Review Such A Sky
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Harlem" CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017