Mike Welch - Just Like It Is
Monster Mike Welch’s musical influences speak in his head all the time, ever-channeling a path from the past through his guitar and songwriting. Lauded at the tender age of 13 as a Blues guitar virtuoso, Welch’s voice with his instrument continues to burn bright and strong. At 28, Mike along with many younger artists continue to be the torch bearer of the traditional electric Blues.
From B.B. King, to Freddy King, Otis Rush, and Buddy Guy you can hear it all in little under an hour re-channeled through this “kid” from the East Coast. With the early sixties B.B. King influenced guitar on “I’m Gonna Move to Another Country” to the instrumental bonanza like Freddy King's “Sticky Whisket,” Welch provides the punch of all the electric Blues guitar greats without sounding like a complete knock-off of any one of the aforementioned individuals. On these 11 originally penned and 2 covers, Welch gives us the rich warm guitar tone of a mature player, though his age belies the statement.
Welch’s backing band of Anthony Geraci on keys, Brad Hallen on bass, and Mark Teixiera on drums are completely with him, strongly steeped in the rich hallows of Chicago Blues of years gone. Geraci conjures thoughts of the great piano players of these old days when he cuts loose on the anchoring solo in the Otis Rush minor key sounding but Peter Green penned “Love That Burns.” Hallen and Teixiera never move from the groove at all, and are solid as an iron bone throughout the album.
Welch’s tenor seems a little undersuited for
the task at hand at times, but they are confident and tend to grow
on the listener after repeated listens. Vocally, Welch is very
reminiscent of his contemporary and friend Nick Moss. By little less
than midway through the album on a bad-love-gone-wrong song “Don’t
Expect Me To Cry,” Welch’s swagger and angst aptly fit and remove a
little from the crooning vibrato tenor he provides on the majority
of the disc. “I’m Not A Stupid Man” would be the other penchant to
know-it-all swagger in his voice when he tells us he’s not about to
cheat on his lover.
Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.