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Willy Porter

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Milwaukee’s Willy Porter has come out with his latest album Willy Porter. It’s a fine display of his guitar playing and songwriting but it lacks the umph of him playing live.

Porter’s live show is excellent. A few weeks ago at Milwaukee’s Summerfest, I passed time waiting for another concert to start by checking out Porter. On stage it was just him and an acoustic guitar. Not much to see, but the power he brought forth from that instrument was amazing. On one song he picked and plucked enough to make a lesser guitarist’s fingers fall off. The song was over and Porter just kept on going, diving into another one. Amazing.

Much of that acoustic virtuosity comes out in his latest self-titled album. The listener is bathed in fine, staccato picking on the first track “Breathe.” From there his brand of acoustic rock continues.

It’s an oxymoron but “Unconditional” is an urban pastorale. Porter describes the love of a mother on a train sitting with her baby and the love of friends to a man on his death bed. Gentle and moving.

Willy Porter has plenty of emotion and soul. Porter doesn’t hold back with his wailing on “Everything but Sorry.” His raspy but melodic voice caresses “Big Yellow Pine.” On “All Fall Down” and “If Love were an Airplane” it lifts like a helium balloon in the harmonies.

But all is not serious on the album. “Dirty Movie” tells a voyeuristic tale of a couple making homemade porn. The chorus with falling bass line makes it the easiest song to stick in your head. There are plenty of pop hooks to keep you hummer long after the disk stops playing.

What ties all the songs together is Porter’s acoustic playing. That’s the backbone to every song. Neither the drums nor keyboards dominate any of the songs. They’re there to add the needed rhythms and textures. Nothing distracts from Porter’s playing and his vocals.

Willy Porter is more intimate than his live performance. Porter sounds like he’s playing in a coffee shop or small club than a larger venue. Sometime, I would love to hear him capture the size of his live sound on an album.

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About Sean Hackbarth

  • anthony maio

    Just amazing!Willy Porter.I saw him open for Jethro Tull.The crowd di not know him.They ranted Tull! Tull!By the time Willy finished playing,the audience wanted an encore.As a musician I really appreciated his act.As a spectator I would not have minded if he stayed on longer.