Album of the week – ‘Take Me To The Alley’ by Gregory Porter
‘Take me to the Alley’ by Gregory Porter is Eastside Radio’s Album of the Week.
An album that packs a lot of punch with the great soulful voice of Gregory Porter is his latest piece of work ‘Take me to the Alley’, released on the 6th of May this year it is Porter’s follow up release since the album that won him a Grammy-Award ‘Liquid Spirit’. After producing a record that sold a million albums worldwide and becoming the most streamed Jazz album of all-time with over 20 million streams Porter has a lot to live up to with ‘Take me to The Alley’ and living up to his work is certainly what he has done.
Using his deep baritone voice Porter brings us through 12 tracks of meaningful messages, sung in the style that we know him by. The album kicks off with the track ‘Holding On’ a track that was originally released by British electronic duo Disclosure, Porter was the featured vocalist on it and co-wrote it for their album ‘Caracal’. Gregory Porter is quoted saying “I decided to do the song the way that I would have recorded it on my record,” Porter says. “It’s a way of saying that a song is a song is a song. The lyrics and the intention of the song come through no matter what kind of bells and whistles are going on.” Well he isn’t wrong, there has been so many covers of tracks over the years that prove if the words are there and if there is enough passion going into it then any hit can be done in a different genre. The original version of ‘Holding On’ was a worldwide hit played in pubs and clubs around the globe so it will be interesting to see how listeners take to the clean cut vocals without all the fuss going on in the background. It sways from pop-soul to Jazz but with his mellow tone and matching keys from the piano played by Chip Crawford it finds its own unique place, and with saxophonists Yosuke Sato and Tivon Pennicott joining in half way through to jive it up. It is a track that his fanbase are sure to enjoy.
After the opening track where Porter had to re-visit in his own right it is back to the drawing board as Gregory’s writing talents start to shine through from here on in, with comments on love, life and social issues Porter is gifted when it comes to his songwriting and to back it all up he executes the songs just how they should be.
Gregory Porter’s singing days began at church doing gospel hyms so it is no surprise that we hear gospel tones that have touches of the blues throughout the album, one of two songs inspired by his son is ‘Don’t Lose Your Steam’, with encouraging lyrics about staying committed to one’s goals regardless of hardship such as “Boy, you hear me calling your name, the bridge is your time, your engine rolls hot, if the bridges fall down, don’t lose your head of steam”. It is one of the more uptempo tracks on the album with some funky organ keys from organist Andrej Pivec. Porter comments about this track are “My wife thinks it’s something that I wanted to hear from my father, and I didn’t hear it, so I’m giving to our son,”.
A track that brings all the instruments together for an uplifting jazzy number that has some Latin and African grooves is ‘French African Queen’ full of horns and saxophones the brass really finishes out the album on a high note.
Some might say that Porter is gradually slipping into the mainstream, signing at Glastonbury festival and stages in Ibiza, he is one of the more commercial Jazz artists of our time, but saying that he is still sticking true to his style, it is not him that is changing for the listener it is the listener widening their taste.
Kamau Kenyatta (Producer)
Emanuel Harold (Drums)
Aaron James (Bass)
Chip Crawford (Piano)
Yosuke Sato (Alto Sax)
Tivon Pennicott (Tenor Sax)
With select guests including trumpeter Keyon Harrold, vocalist Alicia Olatuja, and organist Ondrej Pivec.
1 Holding On
2 Don’t Lose Your Steam
3 Take Me To The Alley
4 Day Dream
5 Consequence Of Love
6 In Fashion
7 More Than A Woman
8 In Heaven
12 French African Queen
You can follow Gregory Porter’s career via his FACEBOOK page, or at gregoryporter.com. Be sure to tune in this week to 89.7FM EASTSIDE RADIO for your chance to WIN a copy of ‘Take me to the Alley’ by Gregory Porter. For an extended listen to the album, tune in on Thursday from 1.30PM – 2PM for ‘Album of the Week’ with Josh Crosbie. You must be a supporter to win so make sure to sign up at http://eastsidefm.org/support-us-2/. Don’t forget you can also stream the station at WWW.EASTSIDEFM.ORG.