Catch Me

Mike Welch

Tone-Cool Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/06/1998

With the continuous loss of blues legends who have kept interest in their magnificent form of music alive, the attention of the blues world slowly shifts from these legends to the younger generation. Into this void stepped Mike Welch two years ago, when he released his debut album at the tender young age of 16. Now 18, Welch has released his third effort, Catch Me, which, despite some major flaws, is an entertaining listen.

While I can still relate to the perils an 18-year-old goes through (I'll be able to identify, at least, until I attend the 10-year reunion of my high school graduating class next year), it sometimes is hard to believe that someone so young could relate to some of the topics the blues deals with, such as love lost and gained. (I'm 27, for Crissake, and I don't claim to be any more knowledgeable about such things.) "Make Up Your Mind" and "If I Love You" are prime examples; on the latter, Welch sings, "If I love you so much / Why do I treat you so bad?" Please.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And while Welch's playing is impeccable, his singing takes some getting used to. I honestly had problems getting past the opening song on the disc, "As Good As Gone," due to the limitations of his vocals. To Welch's credit, though, they get better as the disc goes on - he does a great cover of "Money (That's What I Want)". However, Welch is still a very young man, and it does take time for vocals to mature. In a matter of time, this shouldn't be a limitation to Welch's future.

When Welch steps away from the microphone and lets his playing do the talking on Catch Me, the album takes a major u-turn for the better. With a talented crew of backing musicians (including bassist David Hull, drummer Warren Grant and keyboardist George Leroy Lewis), Welch lets his Strat copy shred through some wonderful 12-bar blues exercises, as heard on "Mole's Blues," "Blues For Cara" and "Don't Worry". However, had this album been all blues instrumentals, it most likely would have become boring rather quickly. So, to Welch's benefit, he spaces out the instrumental work well.

Some of the songs on Catch Me stand out, such as "Worried Life Blues" and "My Love Belongs To You," but there still lacks a maturity about the songwriting - and this, again, is something that only comes with time. So, I'm willing to cut Welch a little slack in this category. Examples of this include "Changing Of The Guard" and the title track.

Is Welch a talented musician? Absolutely. Is he a natural born leader of a blues band? That has yet to be proven. But Catch Me is a portrait of a student of the blues studying for the ultimate test - even though his lessons are far from over.

Rating: C+

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Tone-Cool Records, and is used for informational purposes only.