Monster Mike Welch
Axe to Grind
Welch is least strong as a singer, though he shows a marked improvement over his first album and doesn't overreach his vocal abilities. His quiet, husky vocal works well on the slow, deep blues "My Emptiness." But the band -- Welch, Lewis, bassist Jon Ross and drummer David Warren Grant -- is at its best on the loud, busy rockers, like the R&B-ish "Palm of Her Hand" and the instrumental "Cruise Control." The dense, tight sound is big, loud and hot.
A lot has been made about the technical abilities of younger players like Welch (who is now 18), but the real secret is seasoning. Some have it; some never will. Welch has a real feeling for the blues and works with taste and smarts within the form. He can only get better, and that's going to be very good, indeed.
-- Jennifer Zogott