Grammy award-winning singing sensation Gregory Porter provides the musical medicine in his eagerly awaited new album, All Rise, writes Nick Benson.
Beloved US singer-songwriter Gregory Porter has solidified his place as one of the best voices of our generation in his highly anticipated forthcoming album, All Rise.
Following on from 2017 album Nat King Cole & Me, which charted at number three in the UK album charts, Porter’s forthcoming record, which will be released on Decca Records/Blue Note later this month, marks a return to his beloved original song writing – heart-on-sleeve lyrics imbued with everyday philosophy and real-life detail, set to a stirring mix of jazz, soul, blues, and gospel.
Produced by Troy Miller (Calvin Harris, Rag’n’Bone Man, Amy Winehouse), this record also represents the evolution of Porter’s art to something even more emphatic, emotive, intimate and universal, too.
After Nat King Cole & Me, Porter knew two things: one, he’d bring in an orchestra for his next LP, and, two, music is medicine. In the spirit of that latter revelation, All Rise brims with songs about irrepressible love, plus a little protest, because the road to healing is bumpy.
First single, Revival, sets the tone, kicking off with Porter’s signature hand-clapping. Drop the needle on this irrepressible, gospel-infused track and just try to pretend you aren’t lifted by the spirit.
“For me, it’s the message of walking into this life and having some fear and self-doubt, and the point where you grab onto something that you know is real, the silent and real things, the truth…Once you can grab onto the truth then this fearlessness comes,” said Porter.
This is just one of the many moments of pure joy on the new album.
“Yes, you could say that I went big,” said Porter about the record, which combines the talents of his longtime loyal bandmates, a handpicked horn section, a 10-member choir, and the London Symphony Orchestra Strings. “But, quite frankly, the way I write in my head, it all happens with just voice and piano first, and it’s built up from there. It feels good to get back to the rhythms and the styles and the feelings and the way that I like to lay down my own music from start to finish.”
Cuts like Faith in Love, with its lightly funky Marvin Gaye groove, and Thank You, dedicated to everyone who’s helped Porter along the way, underscore the complexities of love as he sees it. “I keep making references that are both worldly and of the Most High,” he explained. “Am I speaking of God or am I speaking of the people that are on Earth here with me? Am I talking about my actual father who’s dead and in heaven, or am I talking about my Heavenly Father?”
Since his world-beating 2013 Blue Note debut, Liquid Spirit, which won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album, Porter hasn’t let down his legion of fans, whether collaborating with Disclosure on Holding On, releasing his dance hit Liquid Spirit – Claptone Remix which became one of the most popular tracks in Ibiza, scoring another Grammy for Take Me to the Alley (2016), or telling his life story through Cole’s songbook. Porter is still surprised by his runaway success, but he has a theory: “I was soothed by my voice as a child and I think that’s the same thing others get from it. I’m trying to heal myself with these songs.”
Not only has Porter made chart history by bringing jazz back to the masses, graced the iconic Pyramid Stage and the world’s most prestigious gig venues, performed for the Queen, appeared on the biggest TV shows as well as presented his own series (Gregory Porter’s Popular Voices on BBC Four), 2019 saw the singer launch and host his own podcast, The Hang, featuring such distinguished guests as Annie Lennox and Jeff Goldblum. He also became the first celebrity to sing a lullaby on CBeebies Bedtime Stories!
As ever, Porter manages to cut through the noise of genres and the mess of life, bringing his rich, soulful voice and exuberant personality to everyone and everything. And lucky for us that he does.
All Rise by Gregory Porter is out on Decca Records/Blue Note on 28th August 2020.