First Appeared at The Music Box, September 2002, Volume 9, #9
Written by John Metzger
It’s anyone’s guess as to why Willy Porter is still not a household name. But perhaps this can be attributed to the record label turmoil that befell him shortly after scoring several minor radio hits with his sophomore effort Dog Eared Dream. Unfortunately, the troubles seemingly sidelined his recording career just long enough for his forward momentum to stall, and when he finally returned with a new studio recording in 1999, he appropriately dubbed it Falling Forward. Throughout all this, the phenomenal guitarist with the golden voice has quietly persevered, peddling his blend of folk and adult contemporary pop to loyal fans on the national singer/songwriter circuit.
Is Willy Porter back on track? If his latest self-titled release is any indication, the answer is a resounding "yes." True, the disc isn’t the best of his career; one has to go back to his raw, edgy debut The Trees Have Soul for that. But at times, it comes close, and overall, it is a marked improvement over Falling Forward.
Throughout the new disc, Porter follows the same path that he did on his last effort, melding folk, pop, and classic rock styles together to form a solid foundation for his heartfelt reflections on life and love. This time, however, the result is far more rewarding, occasionally reaching the heights of both his live shows and his debut — most notably with Breathe, which sparkles with spirited energy that fuels its self-healing mantra — and even when it doesn’t, it still makes for quite a lovely listen.
The Beatles/Byrds hybrid If Love Were an Airplane soars over a Boston-baked groove; the bouncy Unconditional is reminiscent of some of Paul McCartney’s exquisite acoustic tunes; Blue Light recalls Billy Joel’s Beatle-esque excursions on The Nylon Curtain; and Dishwater Blonde sounds like something from Travis’ The Man Who. All in all, the album shows how much Porter’s songwriting has matured over the years. He remains a talent to seek out and watch. With any luck, Willy Porter will make that just a little bit easier. ½
Willy Porter is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box