Months into living at home, being so close to our families for extended lengths of time, it’s easier than ever to nourish negative feelings and observations about those we love most. If you find yourself fanning these counterproductive flames, we have a most inspirational song writer to help us self-administer the requisite attitude adjustment. A couple tablespoons of his gratitude and tenderness might help to turn the brackish tide within ourselves.
Gregory Porter, the orchestral jazz phenomenon whose vocal prowess is exceeded only by his humility, recently released two short compilations Love Songs and Spiritual Songs.
A favorite is the opening track of the former, “If Love is Overrated.” The soft piano, swishing brushes, gently surging mallets and sparse bright conga hits transport to those acoustically specialized jazz venues. Porter’s vocals are as subtle, strong, expressive and restrained as any. The second verse begins “If love is overrated/ Why is it the only thing I serve? / If love is overrated / Why is the one I’m in the one that I deserve?” The purity of his message is disarming and nourishes the psyche. With any luck, it will inspire us to be better to those around us, who after all are the ones that lift us up in turn.
The first original Stones release in eight years, “Living in a Ghost Town” is a relevant treat that will outlast this era. Putting into words the feelings and lackluster home life of quarantine, it laments the sudden lack of parties and live music sessions now replaced by screen time and longing. Mick Jagger’s vocals are in top form, as are the tasty guitar tones and tight rhythm section. Fans of their 1978 song “Miss You,” will enjoy the sonic breathing room, understated groove and shouty chorus hook.
Some say the song has a reggae feel to it, which is understandable given the backbeat organ accents and long (although faint) echo trails. Those trace elements seem practically unavoidable however when a R&B influenced rock band performs a song about ghosts.
In contrast to other covid period pieces, this track doesn’t feel cliché. It spares us the word “quarantine” and scarcely makes a direct reference, thereby relating to our feelings without an electric arc into the circuit of bad news. It could potentially resonate as well under different circumstances. This song should stand on its own even after society has moved onto whatever awaits us.