Music Reviews

Gregory Porter

Liquid Spirit


Blue Note/Universal

Formats available: CD

This review took longer than most because Liquid Spirit is a great sounding record, so good that it became a reference within days of its arrival and looks like remaining one for a long time to come. This is Porter’s first major label release, quite why it took so long is a mystery but at least he was picked up by a label with pedigree. It sounds like jazz because the band has a double bass, piano and brass but Porter is closer to being a soul singer with the skill and range of a jazz singer. The rhythms are often jazz powered which gives them extra appeal, both the opener No Love Dying and title track are excellent examples, the latter being a driving, snappy number while the former thrills with the harmony of voice and band.
Porter cites gospel and Nat King Cole among his influences and these are apparent on many of the 14 tracks on this album but what sets it apart from the majority is his rich baritone voice. He really is a class act, this is the main reason that Liquid Spirit sounds so good but the recording and production have something to do with it too, it’s not devoid of compression but has decent dynamics and sumptuous tone which make up for a lot. Maybe I don’t listen to enough contemporary soul-jazz but this stands head and shoulders above what has come my way, to be frank it stands pretty high regardless of style.

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