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Gregory Porter - All Rise (Album Review)

Wednesday, 02 September 2020 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Amy Sioux

We can but dream of a quick fix for the anxiety and depression plaguing many of us, but in troubled times we at least have this radiant album from Gregory Porter. An instrumentally lush record where jazz and soul meet gospel and blues for a life-affirming dance at a nightspot named ‘Love Shall Overcome’, ‘All Rise’ is a genuine balm.

It would have been easy for Porter to relax in the comfort zone he’s fashioned for himself as someone who’s successfully reintroduced jazz to the mainstream. He is a songwriter with something to say, though, and a desire to find new ways to express his trademark brand of cathartic transcendence and redemptive release. As such, this follow up to 2017’s Nat King Cole tribute is the singer’s most stylistically and musically expansive effort to date.

As pleasing to the ear as its sentiments are to the soul, Porter’s belief in the healing power of love is all over these beautifully romantic, invigorating tracks. Flush with sumptuous melodies and magical textures, the record begins with the feel good pop-soul of Concorde. 

Astride a perky brass section and sun-kissed west coast piano, Porter’s ascending vocal soars during its stratosphere-tickling chorus. Revival Song, meanwhile is a preaching stomper, its move-your-hips hand claps and backing vocals powered by the spirit of salvation.

Helping him paint on the grandest canvas of his career, and execute Troy Miller’s sublime arrangements, the London Symphony Orchestra makes an invaluable contribution.  Whether adding an enchanting, Hollywood gloss to Love is Overrated and the tenderly seductive Modern Day Romantic, every instrumental stroke, which includes some exceptionally potent grooves and rich flourishes from Porter’s own band, complements and enhances the songs’ emotional raison d’etre.

From the Barry White-esque Everything You Touch is Gold to pounding blues beast Long List of Troubles, and vintage Motown mover Faith in Love, their collective work allows Porter to convey his mixture of autobiographical, observational and fictional storytelling in a typically empathetic and inspiring way that, without ducking painful truths, always strives for hopeful resolution.  

On gospel swinger Dad Gone Thing, for example, he rejoices that he inherited his singing voice from the father who abandoned him as a child. Such a track typifies how his warm, honest and spine-tingling baritone can convey the emotional complexities of any subject matter with unquestionable veracity. That skill is even more evident on Mister Holland. Presented as a lovely ditty, with a wonderfully sweet vocal about meeting a girl’s father, the subtext lurking beneath—the grim irony of Porter thanking someone for not erupting in racist fury at his presence—is painfully prescient.  

Getting this poignant message across in such a picturesque and accessible way exemplifies Porter’s growing ability as a songwriter who can communicate with a degree of subtlety and nuance that consistently hits career best heights on this release. And although its overarching thematic spine makes ‘All Rise’ exactly the kind of soundtrack the world needs right now, its all round conception and execution would still feel special regardless of the socio-political climate of the day.

Gregory Porter Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat February 27 2021 - LEEDS first direct Arena
Sun February 28 2021 - BIRMINGHAM Resorts World Arena
Tue March 02 2021 - MANCHESTER Arena
Wed March 03 2021 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Fri March 05 2021 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
Sun March 07 2021 - BRIGHTON Centre
Mon March 08 2021 - BOURNEMOUTH BIC
Wed May 26 2021 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall
Thu May 27 2021 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall
Sat May 29 2021 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall

Click here to compare & buy Gregory Porter Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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