Summary

Gregory Porter's sophomore effort confirms the talent that was so apparent on his debut. He's developed greater technique and subtlety in his impressive singing. The '70s soul is still quite apparent in his voice, with shades of Donny Hathaway and Bill Withers, but he's also the vocal heir to Nat King Cole. He's becoming a major talent, not just as a singer but also as a composer, with a unique, elliptical style, both for melodies and lyrics, which is quite evident when held up against the covers here. Porter is also acutely aware of dynamics, able to move smoothly from the softness of "Imitation of Life" to the almost atonality of the raucous "Bling Bling," which also features some excellent scat singing. His own material isn't immediately memorable, but insinuates itself into the brain after a few hearings, sophisticated and often beautiful. He keeps his soul/blues credentials alive with a version of "Work Song" that allows him to go full-throated against some honking sax. To finish, there's an a cappella version of "God Bless the Child," a song forever associated with Billie Holiday. It's a daring move, and one that works as it showcases the tenderness in his voice, with an almost liquid quality in the singing, the emotions hinted at rather than laid out. It's a superb climax to a disc that should certainly help Porter's star rise even further. ~ Chris Nickson