Blue-eyed soulster, Will Porter hails form West Virginia but for some years has worked in and around the San Francisco Bay area where, we’re told, he’s a big draw on the live scene. He made his recording debut in 2003 with the ‘Happy’ album which was produced by legendary New Orleans/Southern soul don, Wardell Quezergue. Hardly a fast worker, Porter waited till 2011 to get back into the studio and once again he availed himself of the production services of Quezergue. For reasons never explained the album, ‘Tick Tock Tick’ has only just come out (see what I mean about not being a fast worker?) and for your money and patience you get an old school southern soul album (recorded in New Orleans) with hints of rock and blues all delivered passionately by Porter aided and abetted by some stellar guests – including Dr John, Bettye Lavette, bassist Jimmy Haslip, guitarist Leo Noncentelli (from the Meters) and the legendary Womack Brothers. From a soul purist’s perspective the long player is important as it marks the last work of Quezergue prior to his passing in September, 2011 but sadly despite all the “names”, the album is much less than the sum of its parts.
Best track on offer is the cover of the Ikettes’ ‘I’m Blue’. Porter sounds right at home on the groove; the brass is a delight and the Womacks offer great back up. They’re there too on the gospel song ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright’, a cover of Johnny Burnette’s 1956 rocker ‘Tear It Up’, the string-swamped original ‘This California Sun’ and the LP’s title cut but all four lack the immediacy of ‘I’m Blue’. Bettye Lavette duets with Porter on a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Make You Share My Love’ and her passionate, world-weary voice lifts the cut above the average.
Sadly though that’s the best adjective to describe most of this album… “average”.