Do not enter into 27, the sophomore release from California-by-way-of-Oklahoma singer/songwriter M. Lockwood Porter, with any pretense. In fact, throw your calendar out the window as 27 is a return to arena rock that would have given Peter Frampton a run for his money circa 1976.
Denoting both Porter’s age and that infamous musical fraternity of artists who have passed too soon, you won’t find their influence on 27. Rather than focus on Cobain, Hendrix and the other usual suspects (Jones, Joplin, Morrison, Winehouse, et al), Porter directs his attention on Big Star cofounder, Chris Bell, asking what if Bell hadn’t left us in 1978 on the devotional country waltz “Chris Bell.”
Spanning Southern rock to the Laurel Canyon sound of the ’70s, Porter channels the era’s former on the paranoid breakup song, “I Know You’re Gonna Leave Me,” and the latter on the wistful “Different Kind of Lonely,” delivering the sound Jeff Tweedy was angling for on Wilco’s A.M. and Being There.
Given Porter’s age, 27 is a retrospective album, highlighting relationships and their emotional divide on the breathless rush of “Restless,” teen naiveté on “There to Here” and the backhanded breakup song “Love Me Like I’m Not Around.” Any dourness of mood is elevated on the Jerry Lee Lewis piano kiss off, “You Only Talk About Your Band.”
Having toured extensively since the release of his debut, Judah’s Gone, Porter has opened for the likes of John Moreland, Matt Woods, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires and other roots luminaries. This is mentioned as 27 was written and self-produced in the span of a year with Porter handling the brunt of the album’s instrumentation, backed by Peter Labberton (drums, percussion), Bevan Herbekian (bass, vocals), Jeff Hashfield (keys) and Jules Leyhe (electric guitar, pedal steel). A large-sounding album, Porter’s attention to detail is his signature of devotion to his songs and craft. By exorcising first loves and teen angst, M. Lockwood Porter’s 27 is a poignant stepping stone into the wiser years of adulthood and responsibility.
Stream 27 below and purchase the album on transparent blue vinyl via Black Mesa Records.