Gregory Porter returns with new album Take Me To The Alley through Decca Records. It has the hype but is it worth your money?
If hot chocolate fudge cake drizzled in chocolate sauce, had a voice, and that voice could sing in a way that transports you from anywhere you are to a smoky jazz bar in New York, that hot chocolate fudge cake would be called Gregory Porter.
I must admit, I wasn’t quite convinced by the big man in the black bally with the silky smooth baritone voice on Liquid Spirit, his first album. I was late to the party during his somewhat meteoric rise crossover rise to contemporary music fame. But his live performances have been chipping away at my resistance and now I can fully join the bandwagon as Porter simply slays it with this new album ‘Take Me To The Alley’.
Throughout this new album Porter manages to be at once elegantly smooth and a gentlemanly kind of gruff that could only be pulled off by a stocky bearded bloke in his 40s. ‘Take Me To The Alley’ offers intelligent contemporary soul that conjures up vivid imagery and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable listen. From the opening note of the track number 1, ‘Holding On’, it feels like you’re listening to a live session. The album’s sound has the warmth and resonance of quality vinyl, even when listened to in MP3 quality.
The album’s sound has the warmth and resonance of quality vinyl…”
There’s nothing to dislike about this Lp, even if his Jazz/Gospel refrains can occasionally feel a touch repetitive. You’d be nitpicking to fault this effort but rather than just being a pleasant listen some tracks truly standout and merit a fair few reloads. I’ve been repeatedly pulling-up and reload Track 9 Insanity, it’s a brooding jazzy number about love and pain, with carefully threaded meandering melodies that inspire tingling skin – it’s a masterpiece.
Other highlights include ‘More Than A Woman’, a tribute to a loved one that all of us can relate to, she may be your mother, a sister, aunt, grandmother or partner – whoever she is, the message resonates. Then there’s ‘Consequence of Love’, it’s a bold, rolling number with defiant lyrics. With a piano accompaniment playing phrases that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Rocky soundtrack, he sings about patiently playing the game to be with his beau.
Porter will “fight for the right to be your love” and he will win. Take Me To The Alley is a triumph, buy it, buy it now.