It’s a banner day for powerhouse vocalists: Kem, Ledisi, Toni Braxton, and Gregory Porter all released new albums at midnight. Of those four singers, Porter has enjoyed the least mainstream success, but he has the best ballad of the bunch with “Everything You Touch Is Gold,” which appears on All Rise, the singer’s sixth solo album.
This is the type of recklessly sincere expression of devotion that might have been a major hit in the Eighties for Luther Vandross. Like several of Vandross’ defining ballads — think “A House Is Not a Home” or “Wait for Love” — the core of “Everything You Touch Is Gold” is spare but sturdy. There’s a beat of rimshots and shuddering cymbals, and a stolid bass line quivers high in the mix.
With a voice as poised and calmly piercing as Porter’s, little else is needed. The vocal acrobatics provide much of the fun here. In the first verse alone, the singer dips low for resonant bass notes and flies into a tenacious, husky peaks. Around a minute later, the same voice that was as rugged as a battering ram somehow transforms into a fine falsetto mist.
One of Porter’s couplets is “you don’t have to dig too deep/to find out your effect on me,” and sure enough, “Everything You Touch Is Gold” is overwhelmingly direct from start to finish. “Everything you touch is gold/That is why my soul is shining,” Porter sings. “Feel just like I’m ten years old/Everything’s new and surprising.”
After a horn solo, the singer funks things up during a lengthy outro, picking up the tempo and giving the band more room to roam. (This is another songwriting technique that is reminiscent of Vandross, among others.) “I could write a thousand songs about you, and I will,” Porter promises. But this one is good enough that the other 999 might not be necessary.