Monday, 8 August 2016

CD Review: Billy Porter – At The Corner of Broadway + Soul (2005)

“I woke up this morning on the wrong side of life”

I loved Billy Porter’s second album Billy’s Back On Broadway so I turned with interest to his first, released nearly a decade before in 2005. At The Corner of Broadway + Soul was recorded live at Joe’s Pub and sees Porter bring together his own R’n’B compositions with gospel songs and Broadway hits – both old and new in his own inimitable style. Porter has a massive voice and loves to sing big and it is a joy to hear him cut loose as he so often does here.

A snippet of Dreamgirls’ ‘And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going’ is fierce, Into the Woods’ ‘Last Midnight’ is just beyond, and there’s a healthy smattering (7 in fact) of his own songs which effectively mine a nu-soul vein – the dirty funk of ‘Hell or High Water’ probably emerging as my favourite. He’s not just a belter though. The Adam Guettel/Jason Robert Brown two-fer sees him rein in the power to glorious effect on both ‘Awaiting You’ from Myths and Hymns and ‘King of the World’ from Songs for a New World which shine in their subtlety.

Porter is backed by a cracking line-up of back-up singers including the likes of Capathia Jenkins and Adriane Lenox who really elevate the integrity of the music – the way they all combine to blow Sondheim’s ‘Sunday’ out of the water for the finale is just jaw-droppingly good. And pleasingly for a cabaret record, the spoken interludes are fresh and interesting and worth listening to, which certainly isn’t always the case. There’s good things indeed to be found At The Corner of Broadway + Soul.

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