The story goes that the husband and wife duo of Kendra Porter and Cole Michael Porter met for the first time while singing Karaoke in their hometown of Springfield, Missouri. Kendra worked at a local bar where Cole and his buddies hung out. Kendra caught Cole’s eye, and he wanted to find a reason, and a way, to approach her. It was suggested by his pals that he do a karaoke song and ask if she join him. It worked. To the surprise of Cole, Kendra said, “yes.” The two sang “Whiskey Lullaby” and Cole was amazed by the voice of the beautiful woman that had grabbed his attention. Kendra and Cole started dating in the fall of 2010. The Cole Porter Band started playing gigs in April of 2011. Cole asked Kendra to sing harmony with the band a month or two after their first gig. Happily, Kendra and Cole Porter married on August 31, 2013. The marriage would be a part of the gradual transformation from the Cole Porter Band, to what is now, Porter Union. The husband and wife team would go on to independently release their self-titled album, Porter Union, on June 2, 2017.
All eleven tracks on the record are original and written by Cole Porter and/or are co-writes with Kendra Porter, with one exception, “False Idol.” That tune was co-written between Cole and the one and only Cody Jinks. The album, Porter Union, was recorded at No Coast Recording Studio and Nick Sibley Music in Springfield, Missouri. Additional recording was conducted at The Studio at Christ Chapel in Fort Worth, Texas and mixed and engineered by Paul Carabello, Nick Choate, assisted by Adam Schoeller, and mastered by Alex McCollough at True East Mastering. All songs were published by Defiant Sound Records.
Porter Union, from top to bottom, is a must listen through and through. The back and forth between Kendra and Cole is nothing less than mesmerizing, both lyrically and vocally strong. The first tune on the record, “Don’t Look at Me,” sets the tone for this album right out of the gate with the twang of the electric guitar and the sweet sounds of the pedal steel throughout. Kendra and Cole start the tune with a proclamation, “Don’t look at me / That way / Unless you / You plan to stay.” The song is that of a traditional, classic county-love duet, but elevated to a level that is hard to find in today’s world of real country music. The song is about a woman scorned, scared to fall in love again and making sure the man has the intention to stay forever. The man is unsure of forever until he met this woman, who he feels is special. A damn fine tune to kick off a damn fine album.
While tracks two through four on this album deserve the attention, it is track five that will be highlighted here. “The Child” is one of those sad songs from country and western past. A harsh truth about the separation of a mother and a father, with the child left in the middle to witness the fallout of the marriage. “Can’t even find the strength to be friends / Not for anyone’s sake / But a child still hopes and prays / “They’ll make it work one of these days.” Reality from the perspective of a child stuck in the middle of love that once was and that is no more. “But all the kings’ horses and all the kings men” / “Can’t put mom and dad back together again.” It’s brilliant. It’s sad. It hits home for far too many in a society of broken marriages.
Porter Union is an album from beginning to end where each and every song deserves a listen. It is one of those albums that spins without the need to skip a song. It’s absolutely brilliant and we cannot wait for the long overdue sophomore effort. The duo has put out a single which was released on March 8, 2019, “Lie With Me,” and has reason for us to believe that a new album is not far away. It is also notable to mention that the duo holds an annual Christmas concert in their hometown of Springfield, MO called the Schweddy Ball. This is a charity, Toys for Tots, event that is a MUST attend if you are anywhere in the area. Follow Porter Union on social media for the date and time of this event.
Players on the album, Porter Union.
Cole Michael Porter (vocals and acoustic guitar), Kendra Porter (vocals), Scotty Schultz (drums and percussion), Jon Wallace (lead guitar, rhythm electric, and acoustic), John Shadid (pedal steel), Chris “Hef” Heifner (bass), Joshua Thompson (bass), Drew Harakal (piano and keys), Molly Healey (fiddle and cello), Paul Carabello (electric and acoustic guitar), Cody Stanford (acoustic guitar).
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