Various Small Flames - M. LOCKWOOD PORTER – 27


A few months back we featured a double A-side single from San Francisco-based folk/country artist M. Lockwood Porter. Now he has just released his second full-length album, 27, and we feel compelled to tell you about it (it’s really good).

The album opens with ‘I Know You’re Gonna Leave Me’, which starts as what appears to be a peppy little folk/country song. But some sudden electric guitars kick things up a notch and by the end the thing is a fully-fledged rock song, with crashing drums and Porter’s repeated cry of “I know you’re gonna leave me all alone!”

Next up is a country-folk ode to Chris Bell of Big Star, whose death in 1978 led him to become another member of the so-called “27 Club”, a group of famous musicians (including Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix) who have died at the tender age of twenty seven. Porter himself has now reached that fabled age, and so decided to base his album on this troubling idea, using it as a springboard to explore topics such as mortality, legacy and coming-of-age in the modern world.

Another stand-out is ‘Mountains’ which stands tall and indomitable at the album’s centre, opening with a repetitive percussive thump and sober pianos and some gentle acoustic guitar. This is a proper folk-rock ballad, epic in scope and romantically reflective in outlook. The song addresses religion and faith and what happens when you get to a point where neither offers much solace. “When I was young my father said that faith could move a mountain / Now there’s mountains as far as I can see,” he sings at the start, before defiantly insisting at the close, “And as I stare across the vast expanse I can hear my father shouting / The mountains are all that I can see.”

The real triumph of the album is the way in which Porter inhabits a range of genres and seems entirely comfortable in each. He has shown himself adept at playing the rock & roll star, country singer and folk troubadour, all in the space of a single album. Best of all, it works. Not a single track feels out of place or shoehorned in for effect. Fans of Ryan Adams, Josh Ritter, Wilco and even Springsteen will doubtless also be fans of this.

You can get 27 right now via Black Mesa Records, or as a digital download via the M. Lockwood Porter Bandcamp page.

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