5

Leo Welch: Sebougla Voices

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
Leo Welch: Sebougla Voices 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.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Big Legal Mess Records


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Two CD/LP/Track Review Two
by Joe Gatto
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand CD/LP/Track Review Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "Swivel" CD/LP/Track Review Swivel
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "Colour And Movement" CD/LP/Track Review Colour And Movement
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "Esse" CD/LP/Track Review Esse
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 5, 2017
Read "South Beat" CD/LP/Track Review South Beat
by Edward Blanco
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "From Here to There" CD/LP/Track Review From Here to There
by Mark F. Turner
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Counteraction" CD/LP/Track Review Counteraction
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 20, 2017
comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!