Jody Porter - Close to the Sun
Record Label: Engine Room Recordings
Release Date: May 11, 2010
British guitarist Jody Porter has been the axe man in Fountains of Wayne since 1996. Prior to that he was well-known in and around New York City for his deft playing and Brit-pop sensibilities. To date he has played on albums with Albert Hammond Jr., Ivy, Jesse Malin, David Mead and Juliana Hatfield to name a few. Close to the Sun is his debut solo album.
How is it?
Pretty damn good. Porter can definitely shred and Close to the Sun is proof of that. The heavily nuanced album ducks and darts around slinky, sensual verses and hazy choruses and while it does tend to dawdle. it also has some bonafide nuggets. Take for instance, first single 'Aurora," a bluesy pop number with enough grit and tenacity to be gruff, while still possessing enough polish to warrant repeat listens. The bristling "Waiting for the Stars," sounds most similar to FOW material but his concise phrasing has a simplicity that ratchets this power-pop gem to something more aligned with Jason Falkner or Mike Viola.
The spiky energy of "Cars on the Motorway," allows Porter's vocals to once again take center stage and keeps the exercise from faltering. Certainly in less capable hands, the song would most assuredly fall asunder, but Porter works it out. Granted his vocals aren't the cream of the crop ----- the acoustic "Night for Days," proves this ---- but they aren't unlistenable either. When he hones in on sentimentality, like on the sweetly affecting "You're Not Alone," he hits a groove and touches on something that isn't being chased down in music these days: bare-bones pop rock.
While some have compared Close to the Sun to the The Kinks and The Stone Roses, a good chunk of the disc seems to veer more towards modern day Brit-rock including but not limited to: U2, Oasis, Hurricane No. 1 and Stereophonics. Producers Michael Tudor (Ryan Adams, Moby) and Gordon Rapheal (The Strokes, Regina Spektor) color the album in simplicity. This is a straightforward guitar-driven effort with few bells and whistles. Because of the restraint and the direct approach, there's an inherent warmness that allows the disc to stay afloat.
And while it's definitely not an album of the year candidate, it's a pleasant and refreshing listen from someone who understand his own limitations and his own frailties. If only all those younger acts could follow suit. The music industry might not be awash in such drivel. If only.