3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Spirited and Beautiful,
This review is from: Liquid Spirit (Audio CD)
Gregory Porter's third release, his first on a major label - Blue Note - continues the jazz vocal prowess firmly established in his previous fine work. It is a soulful voice, a baritone-rich and strong assurance that delivers a forceful tone whether in the upbeat gospel of title track 'Liquid Spirit', the jazzy third 'Lonesome Lover' where it rises gloriously over classic walking bass, to what is becoming his signature sentimental balladry of third 'Water Under Bridges', where familiar lyrical metaphors maintain conviction through the beauty - gorgeous really - of the sung storytelling. This is most evident in fourth 'Hey Laura', where the twee honesty of the narrative is simply so, though bolstered again by the wonderful beauty of that voice, dropping as it does to a perfect bass at times ['so late/couldn't wait'] in the opening melody.
Seventh 'Wolfcry' is exquisite - truly so - voice and piano in superb unison, Porter's voice singing the ballad's heartfelt story with such a powerful pace musically, but also in the telling of the tale. The range here is also excellent, those emotive rises and then perfectly pitched bass lines. There is no technical wizardry, but there is technical excellence. Eighth 'Free' is a pacier offering, reminding of the soul sound of Bill Withers and even The Temptations in the story of Daddy and Momma, and his quintet lay down great jazz instrumental credentials: Yosuke Sato and Tivon Pennicott on saxophones; Chip Crawford on piano; Aaron James on bass, and Emanuel Harold on drums.
The two closing tracks are relatively longish, averaging seven minutes each, and whilst one reviewer I have read is cautionary about this, I like the development these provide, especially penultimate 'When Love Was King' where the unravelling narrative is carried by the mounting passion in the singing. Closer 'I Fall In Love Too Easily' is also charged, Crawford's piano dueting with Porter's vocal jazz timings in the most traditional manner. These are classic late-night jazz ballads reminding of other great vocalists wherein Porter is comfortable, impressive company.