The 6th of May will be a good day for many, as it has been named as the release date for the fourth studio album from Grammy Award winner Gregory Porter. Take Me To The Alley is the desperately awaited follow up album to the phenomenal success of 2013’s Liquid Spirit.
The album features a song that Porter had previously worked on with electronic artists Disclosure. The pair co-wrote the song for their album Caracal and Porter was the featured artist on the track but he made a decision to rework the song for this album, as he wanted to do it his way for his record.
Last month, two singles from the album were released, prior to the album, the first of which was “Don’t Lose Your Steam“. The constant repetition of “young man” is a reference to Porter’s three-year-old son, whom the song is dedicated to. The lyrics send an encouraging message of the importance commitment and dedication towards your dreams, despite any difficulties that may unveil.
The punchy, a Capella opening is a shock, causing it to be unavoidably gripping, forcing you to look up and listen. The introduction of the percussion as the next layer, increases the listeners interest and intrigue until the lively, sharp brass sound is finally introduced, making it impossible not to dance and clap along.
The second of the pre-released singles was the renewed version of “Holding On“, which has a beautiful opening, consisting of crisp, high piano chords and a soft cymbal beat behind. The piano then takes on a slightly warmer sound when the chords lower as the vocal line enters and a bass line is added. The scratchy gentle percussion, with the subtle bouncy double bass line and the combination of interesting chords, are just so typical of Porter’s soulful jazz style.
The repeating lyric “holding on” at the end of the chorus particularly demonstrates Porter’s talent as a singer as well as a songwriter, with that unique soulful tone in his voice. Contrasting so well with this is the central trumpet solo, which despite the range of dynamics and pitch, is so controlled that it managed to produce goosebumps.
The album’s title track “Take Me To The Alley” is one to be excited about. The slow percussion beat and the lower, warm piano line based on beautiful jazzy chords, makes up an opening that is as satisfying and delicious as butter on hot toast. The addition of the smooth, elongation vocals makes it almost impossible for you not to relax as you smile and sway along.
Porter is complimented stunningly by the female vocalist, who harmonises and accompanies throughout the song. This song, like with “Don’t Lose Your Steam” have been described as autobiographical, as they were both inspired by and written with his family in mind.
Porter’s previous album Liquid Spirit gained extraordinary success and Take Me To The Alley could most definitely follow in its footsteps. As soon as the 2013 smash hit was released, listeners were desperate for more and after three long years, this is as good, if not better than has been imagined all that time.
Jazz is a genre that many think is old and dated but Porter has once again brought it into the 21st century, keeping it classic but making music that is so relevant and so relatable. He has well and truly solidified himself as this generation’s stand out jazz singer and songwriter and beyond that, quite possibly one of the most soulful voices and exceptional talents that we will be lucky enough to hear from this year.
Gregory Porter’s Take Me To The Alley is out via XXX on May 6, pre-order it on iTunes here.
Words by Emma Exelby