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High Wire Live

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Album Review

Willy Porter the guitarist will call to mind such fleet-fingered colleagues as Adrian Legg and (a more common point of comparison) Leo Kottke. Willy Porter the singer is less distinctive — his voice is gritty and heartfelt, but not especially noteworthy, which is not necessarily a bad thing. As a songwriter he's somewhere in between, which means he's a very good songwriter indeed. This live album was culled from performances in England, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Oregon, all of them solo acoustic shows (though on one track he is accompanied nicely on electric guitar by Jethro Tull's Martin Barre). Songs include, inevitably, his brilliant hit "Angry Words," along with such stellar material as the guitar showcase "Breathe" and "Mystery," which is rendered here as a charming singalong. He does a nice job with the Richard Shindell composition "You Stay Here," and finishes up with a genuinely jaw-dropping instrumental entitled "Road Bone." His between-song patter is sharp, funny, and mercifully brief, allowing the listener to focus on what really matters: his lyrics and his brilliant acoustic guitar playing. Recommended.

Customer Reviews

Stunning guitar, superb lyrics

Saw Willy Porter guesting for Jethro Tull a few years back - he did a short set, with Tull playing as his backing band! What a guitarist - technically brilliant but obviously having a lot of fun along the way. I can't get enough of Unconditional, with lyrics to make you cry, and You Stay Here with Tull's Martin Barre playing a really subtle electric guitar accompaniment. Wasn't so keen on the opening track, Tribe, but stick with it, it'll grow on you, and the rest of the album will have you laughing, awestruck and eventually singing along. This will be a treat, I promise.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Like Greg Brown, John Hammond, Leo Kottke, Stephen Fearing, Richard Shindell, Kelly Joe Phelps, and so many others, Willy Porter is often at his strongest as a solo act. He does work with a band periodically, but given the economics of touring in recent years, he seems to perform more frequently accompanying himself with guitar and mandolin. Porter honed his chops the natural way, busking across Europe and playing every little coffee house and dive bar on both sides of the Mississippi. He's a veteran...
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High Wire Live, Willy Porter
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