Gregory Porter – All Rise
Unparalleled Grammy-winner Gregory Porter’s sixth studio album, All Rise, presents candid and heartfelt lyrics with soulful blues, gospel and jazz – a return for the artist to writing his experiences and perceptions using his own original material.
Though technically diverse in tone, the tracks are unified by a theme suggested by the title – that of rising up – combined with Porter’s personal recollections and philosophy of life. With his own band, a brass/woodwind section, the strings – especially violins – of the London Symphony Orchestra and a choir of ten, the sound is rich, evocative and beautiful. Above all, it is Porter’s superb voice that lifts his moving lyrics to a level of sublime reverie; a little Motown combined with R&B and jazz, it is a classic sound with a contemporary appeal.
Beginning with the vibrant Concorde, which perfectly balances Porter’s lovely smooth baritone vocals with stirring instrumentals, the record promises to be impressive. A strong gospel theme highlights Dad Gone Thing – with its spiritual choir and dash of Earth, Wind & Fire soul-funk, it is a touching description of his own inspiration’s source, his beloved father’s church singing. Bluesy with a tinge of the devotional, the excellent Revival Song is also on point with issues of the day, as it is about Freddie Gray, a young man who died at the hands of police in 2015.
Opening with a symphonic resonance and retro mood, the sweet and gentle If Love is Overrated merges old-fashioned love song with R&B vibe. With its 60s flavour, the charming, romantic Faith in Love begins with serene piano, accelerating to an upbeat Lou Rawls-style vocals with jazz. Similarly retro in tone – about excess commercialism’s effects on children – the compelling Merchants of Paradise exhibits innovative and intriguing jazz. With deep percussion and a Temptations quality, Long List of Troubles – an acknowledgment of life’s hardships – is unique and powerful.
Featuring first-rate brass sound and sultry captivating tempo, the excellent Mr Holland presents a teenage Porter speaking to his girlfriend’s dad – whom he clearly esteems – about race and gratitude. Violins introduce a slow, endearing love song, Modern Day Apprentice, and the moody, sexy Everything You Touch is Gold also has a whisper of Rawls.
With great instrumentals, the faster-pulsed, romantic Phoenix is followed by the whimsical, sentimental reminiscing of Merry Go Round, and a winsome ballad that builds to a sultry, seductive, vigorous beat – Real Truth. After the strong, slow rhythm of You Can Join My Band is the terrific finale of the dynamic, positive, energetically jazzy Thank You, with its transcendent, ethereal female chorus.
Porter brings poignant emotion, perceptiveness and a gracious, cool ambience to this album, emphasising righteousness, compassion and love. Each number has its own special quality while in its entirety the record is a deeply moving and thought-provoking collection. Combining immensely enjoyable and inspiring music with soul-stirring lyrics, All Rise delivers a timeless, exhilarating, uplifting and rewarding experience.
Photo: Amy Sioux
All Rise is released on 28th August 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Gregory Porter’s website here.
Watch the video for Revival Song here: