American gospel singer Gregory Porter first made a splash when in 2011 he was given a spot on Later With Jools Holland. The following year he was introduced by Jamie Cullum at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, and such was his meteoric rise that a few years later he was selling out The Royal Albert Hall. And with the release of his sixth studio album, All Rise, Porter’s irresistibly smooth and baritone vocals have easily secured him his place in the music hierarchy.

Whilst his 2017 release, Nat King Cole & Me mostly comprised of covers, All Rise is a reminder of Porter’s incredible song writing abilities. With a track list comprising thirteen songs, each number has its own special quality while in its entirety the album is deeply moving and really thought provoking. Having combined immensely enjoyable and inspiring music with soul stirring lyrics, he delivers a timeless, exhilarating, uplifting and rewarding listening experience.

First track, the upbeat and vibrant Concorde, sets the scene which sees Porter’s perfectly smooth baritone vocals mixed with stirring instrumentals which immediately promises an impressive album which strikes a balance between wistful reflection and social awareness that surrounds the current mood of 2020.

The gospel tinged Dad Gone Thing is up next and is a beautiful tale of a feckless father with his only gift to his child is the ability to sing in church and with Porter’s rich voice it is genuinely very moving. Revival Song, the first single to be released from the album, is a master class in soulful expression which features a ten strong choir that harmonises beautifully with Porter’s outstanding vocals.

The jazzy string driven gorgeous ballad, If Love Is Overrated, merges an old fashioned love song with an R & B vibe and allows the listener to bathe in its lyrics, enhanced by a superb soprano saxophone solo. With its 60s flavour the charming romantic Faith In Love begins with serene piano showing that Porter has surrounded himself with excellent musicians for this album with musical director Troy Miller in the role of arranger, producer and sometime drummer and pianist.

The London Symphony Orchestra Strings brings lush texture to songs like the catchy Merchants Of Paradise before the dramatic Long List Of Troubles sees great use of the Hammond organ. Mr Holland is an excellent track with its catchy melody, sung in Porter’s resounding baritone as he addresses racial inequality singing from the view point of a black teenager dating a white girl.

Violins introduce the slow and endearing love song, Modern Day Apprentice which morphs into a gospel tinged jazz track and is undoubtedly a highlight of the album. It is not until the tenth song on the album that there is a song dedicated to his wife and Everything You Touch Is Gold is deserved of its place. Phoenix is a powerful ode to both a lover and love itself and sees Porter effortlessly soar through the final chorus inciting a goose bump inducing moment.

His rich and distinctive voice is on full show with the delightful waltzing Merry Go Round which has the feel of a 50s movie soundtrack before the terrific finale of the dynamic really ambitious Thank You, a song dedicated to his fans that have helped him become the phenomenon that he is with its transcendent, ethereal female chorus.

When all we seem to hear is bad news these days, All Rise is unequivocally good news. With a release date that should have been earlier this year its unfortunate delay was due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But this soulful and uplifting collection of joyous, smart mix of jazz, soul and old school gospel songs is definitely an album to weather this storm of global uncertainty.

Our Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Number of tracks: 13

Running time: 01:01:24

Released on: Decca Records/Blue Note

Release date: 28th August 2020

Formats: CD/MP3/Vinyl

To purchase: https://www.gregoryporter.com/music/