Though M. Lockwood Porter has made most of his music while living in the Bay Area, he’s now back in his home state of Oklahoma, and on his 4th album, Communion In The Ashes, he brings an anthemic quality to songs about modern day social problems, something he experienced first hand during his time as an educator.
The title track starts the album with driving guitars and a thriving rock’n’roll spirit that’s somewhere between power-pop and alt-rock, and “Waiting For A Sign” brings keys to a calmer atmosphere of melodic sounds. “Broken Light” gets a bit on the rugged side of Americana, and “Didn’t Know What Love Meant” recruits breezy tunefulness with a retro feel, while “Get Back To The Wild” starts sparse before settling into an experimental, busy adventure.
The listen stuns later on, too, with the piano led, gospel influenced “I Will Do No More A-Prayin’”, the ‘80s nods and New Wave stylings of the playful “The Dream Is Dead”, and the crisp indie-rock and intricate guitar solos of “This Fear Won’t Control Me”. Porter exits on “Nowhere Left To Run”, an agile closer of quaint keys, brushed percussion and ultimately a smart, insightful exit that punctuates the themes surrounding the record.
Porter retains a sage-like ambience not unlike Costello, Dylan or Springsteen here, and his youthful hooks and punchy songs are the sort that make you stand up and pay close attention right from the get-go. Ultimately a protest album, albeit in a more subtle way than we are used to, Porter and company display the sort of dynamic chemistry and sharp songwriting prowess that’s synonymous with ‘album of the year’ potential.
Travels well with: Bright Eyes- Digital Ash In A Digital Urn; Wilco- The Whole Love