For many, 2020 has been a year of chaos. This includes Grammy-Award-winning jazz singer Gregory Porter, hit hard by his brother’s virus-related death in May. Yet, besides all the drama, it’s also a year of celebration for Porter. 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of his debut album, “Water”, as well as the release of his highly-anticipated new album, “All Rise”. After months of delays due to the pandemic, it is finally available now. His sixth studio record is an exploration of love, religion, and resilience. “All Rise” begins with the drum-heavy, mid-tempo track “Concorde” that draws the listener in. The song is a perfect fit for Porter’s recent NASA partnership where he sang “America The Beautiful” right before the launch of the latest Mars mission.
The inspiring music video for “Concorde” portrays Porter as an astronaut. The lyrics to the song describe an important internal shift. After a period of uncertainty, he’s finding his footing. The singer is allowing his heart to open and experience the goodness around him. For Porter to open his heart, he has to deal with the traumas of his past. “Dad Gone Thing” tells of his tumultuous relationship with his father. A skilled storyteller, Porter intrigues the listener with tales of his father keeping up appearances in the church while abandoning him at home. “Long List Of Troubles” is an anthem of resilience. No matter how many times Porter has gotten knocked down, he’s dedicated to getting back up. Its chorus is an inspirational mantra, “Disappointment can drop me from a thousand stories high / I’ve got a spare pair of wings / Oh, watch me fly”.
During much of “All Rise”, Porter croons about learning to love again. “Faith In Love” signals the beginning of the transition, where Porter finally finds someone whom he can trust just as much as he trusts God. The middle of the album presents a long stretch of unashamedly romantic tunes: “Modern Day Apprentice”, “Everything You Touch Is Gold”, “Phoenix”, and “Merry Go Round”. With the frontend and the backend of “All Rise” discussing a myriad of topics, the repetitiveness of the middle could exhaust the listener. Each song has dazzling vocals as well as captivating instrumentation. But, the songs lose their appeal back to back.
“Real Truth”, one of the most breathtaking tracks on the album, features hauntingly beautiful background vocals and a band whose tempo slowly progresses throughout the song, leading to an earth-shattering finale. The track invites the listener into church in an effort to open their hearts, just as the church has opened his. The song “Thank You” has the listener sitting in church right beside Porter. The uptempo track is bound to have you tapping your fingers and bobbing your head throughout its runtime.
“Revival”, the final track, is a reprisal of a song appearing in the first part of the album, titled “Revival Song”. The song presents a theme that is present throughout “All Rise”, how religion has helped Porter through dark times. In its chorus, Porter sings, “But you lift me higher / Out of the fire / Out of the flames / I lost the feeling / But you give me meaning again”. On “All Rise”, Porter isn’t afraid to show the pressures that he’s been under, because pressure births diamonds. Although it’s been ten years since his first studio album, “All Rise” proves that Gregory Porter will spend many more years making great music.
Written by Nia Simone McLeod
Nia Simone is a writer, content creator, video editor, and pop culture enthusiast from Richmond, Virginia. When she’s not tapping away at her laptop, she’s either curating her next great Spotify playlist or stuffing her face at the local pho shop. To read about Nia’s endless adventures through nostalgic music, video games, and fashion, visit loveniasimone.com
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