Gregory Porter – Nat “King” Cole and Me, Album Review

Following a very successful career to date, some may ask why Gregory Porter has chosen to release a covers album, but not of various artists, just of the great Nat “King” Cole. These are certainly large shoes to fill, however, from the first listen it is cleary evident that the shoes are not only filled, but made as comfy as a pair of slippers. Porter has said that Cole was a huge influence on him and this album is a tribute. “It’s only natural that I go to the root of my inspiration and where I come from. And that root would be my mother and gospel music and Nat King Cole”.

From the opening strings of “Mona Lisa” the mind wafts to an autumn evening, sat by an open fire and just letting the dulcet tones wash over you. It really is most comforting and this continues for every track. The re-workings are ably mastered by Vince Mendoza (like Porter another multiple Grammy Award winner) however not every song is made into a majestic orchestral masterpiece, and “L.O.V.E” gets a more familiar Porter Jazz style, however, it’s very easy on the ear and fits amongst the other songs perfectly.

“When Love was King”, is, for me, the album’s finest moment, spectacularly tender and highlighting just what a magnificent voice and vocal range Gregory Porter has. Being re-worked from his Liquid Spirit album, it’s almost acappella in places and really is breath-taking.

So who is this album for? Well for Gregory Porter fans, they will not be disappointed and will simply admire his great voice even more. For Nat “King” Cole fans, they too will be impressed that there is a modern day vocalist who can do justice to these songs. For other fans of music this may just be the album to put Mr Porter into yet another league, sure enough he’s already successful but his interpretation of what some say are ‘standard classics’ really do command respect, these recordings are nothing short of fantastic.

Gregory Porter is due to tour next year; let’s hope he brings strings with him to allow these songs to be played live. That really would be a wonderful experience.

2017 has been a very good year for some excellent album releases. “Nat “King” Cole and Me” by Gregory Porter is one of those. I admit I’ve long been a fan of his, he oozes a charm and a soothing voice which at times appears effortless; however, with this album I think he’s released his best yet. Have a lazy Sunday morning, put the coffee pot on, stick the record on and appreciate just how lucky we are to have Gregory Porter amongst us.

 

Reviewer: Glenn Raybone

Image courtesy of PR.

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