At the closing song of his last album ‘Take Me To The Alley’ Gregory Porter signified that he would return with something spectacular, and what more stunning than a tribute album to the legend that is Nat King Cole, in ‘Nat King Cole & Me’.
‘Nat King Cole & Me’ is a theatrical weaving of Cole’s songs to perform a semi-autobiographical account of Porter’s life.
Without rehashing his story of woe, Gregory Porter quite cleverly arranged a collection of the King’s songs that spoke to his soul and told his story from boyhood to man.
Opening with ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘Smile’ you get a glimpse of someone masking emotions to the outside world – even if within they felt their world was falling apart.
As you listen to ‘Nature Boy’ you hear Cole’s words of advice heeded by the young and impressionable Porter…“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return…” words of counsel that never left his mind.
Although this album is a tribute to Nat King Cole, not all songs were written by him. ‘I Wonder Who My Daddy Is’, for instance was written and performed by Nat King Cole‘s brother Freddie Cole, but is a perfect fit to the autobiography as we know Gregory grew up sans father figure.
It’s uncanny just how fitting Nat King Cole‘s songs were to Gregory Porter‘s life, in ‘Ballerina’ he sings – “On with your career you can’t afford a backward glance…a thousand people here have come to see the show…” mirroring the fact that no matter how tough life gets he has a job to do and whatever has overshadowed his life in the past, he just has to soldier on, which he reiterates in song ‘Pick Yourself Up’.
Now the thing I love about ‘Nat King Cole & Me’ is the respect Porter has for Cole, as he humbly sings each song without pushing its boundaries.
We all know that Porter can raise the roof with his voice. His vocal range making the very hairs on your arm stand on end, and yet throughout this album you don’t get that feeling at all.
Listening to ‘Nat King Cole & Me’ is an appreciation of what Nat King Cole left for the world, it’s contemplation on being selfless, choosing to over-come life’s obstacles, it’s taking counsel and learning to love yourself and others, it’s a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul.
‘Nat King Cole & Me’ by Gregory Porter is available to buy now.