Leo “Bud” Welch didn’t reach a wide audience until near the end of his life, and now the late blues singer will add one last LP in March with the help of Dan Auerbach. Titled The Angels in Heaven Done Signed My Name, the new album features the scuzzy electric blues “I Come to Praise His Name,” premiering today.
Born in Sabougla, Mississippi, in 1932, Welch — who died in 2017 — played gospel and blues in his Baptist church and local juke joints until he was 81 years old, when he at last recorded his debut album Sabougla Voices, released via Fat Possum subsidiary Big Legal Mess. Welch joined forces with Auerbach for his third and final album, and though “I Come to Praise His Name” certainly fits the template of the Black Keys’ gritty, acid-washed sound, it wholly belongs to Welch, whose voice sounds remarkably spry and youthful. The new song is also accompanied by some retrofitted video that was shot in Welch’s wood-paneled church basement in the Eighties.
Auerbach speaks glowingly of having had the opportunity to record with Welch, who laid down roughly 30 of his own original songs with help from Arcs members Leon Michaels and the late Richard Swift, before they were whittled down to the final 10-track running order. “Working with Bud was a true blessing and I’ll never forget it,” Auerbach tells Rolling Stone Country. “Bud taught us the songs that he’d been playing since he was a kid. He was so soulful. When he sang, you listened. And his guitar playing was steady as a rock.”
The Angels in Heaven Done Signed My Name will be released March 8th on Auerbach’s Easy Eye record label. In 2018, Welch’s remarkable life was the focus of the documentary Late Blossom Blues.