While you’re busy making New Year’s resolutions, here’s one worth adding to the list: acquaint yourself with the music of Willy Porter, the singer/songwriter/guitarist extraordinaire whose finely wrought observations on life and love have earned him a passionate following over the last 15 years and change. Only problem is, that following is too small.
Now, I’m sure Willy Porter is thoroughly appreciative of his fans, and probably pretty content with the career path he’s carved out for himself, but his smart, beautiful music would be perfect for plenty of people who haven’t heard it — and if you’re a Popdose reader, chances are you’re one of the fans-in-waiting I’m talking about.
Porter’s latest release, the seven-track Live at BoMA, acts as a sensibly priced appetizer for his back catalog, while also offering longtime fans the chance to hear some old favorites in a new light. BoMA is a live release (albeit one recorded with a minimum of crowd noise and zero stage patter), but one with a twist: for this show, Porter performed with Carpe Diem, a string quartet consisting of Charles Wetherbee (violin), John Ewing (violin), Korine Fujiwara (viola), and Kristin Ostling (cello). The result, while not quite a radical departure from Porter’s general aesthetic, perfectly highlights the quiet beauty of his songs while adding a little extra color to his typically stripped-down live framework.
BoMA‘s track listing may be brief, but Porter draws sensibly from his back catalog, focusing on some of the songs that would benefit most from Carpe Diem’s involvement (such as “Big Yellow Pine,” which gets a swooping, lovely overhaul, and the yearning “Paper Airplane,” which surpasses the studio version). At less than seven bucks, you can’t argue with the price, either — spend a few of those holiday gift card dollars here, and you won’t regret it. (2010, Weasel Records)