REVIEW: Front Porch Step – ‘Whole Again’

Artist: Front Porch Step
Album: Whole Again EP
Genre: Acoustic folk
Label: Pure Noise Records

I’ve grown to love the EP format over the years. When it’s properly executed, a shorter release offers a perfectly sized stopgap for fans between records, while giving the artist an opportunity to try new things in a sidestep from the high risk, career benchmark, full-length format. In this regard, Front Porch Step has nailed it with Whole Again. The short, fifteen-minute EP features three new songs, all of which offer a new take on Front Porch Step mastermind Jake Mcelfresh’s distinct songwriting style, along with a cute Christmas cover just in time for the holiday season.

The record opens with the country-infused “A Lovely Mess,” and immediately, the newly-introduced theme of positivity shows its face. Mcelfresh is clearly in a better place with Whole Again than he was while writing last year’s Aware. Jake croons over the bridge with a building urgency, “Someday we could wake up in a bed we call our own / I would buy you lots of flowers and someday I’d build your home / I would sing you Frank Sinatra while we sway along and dance / this life, of course, could be all yours if you’d just give me a chance.” As we round out one of the most depressing years in the history of emo lyrics, the change of pace is certainly welcome. “Heaven Sent” slows things down with a finger-plucking guitar line and ambient pianos. Ace Enders makes a surprise guest appearance in the second half of the track, adding the perfect flourish to one of Jake’s best vocal melodies.

After a rather standard rendition of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” things start to get interesting with the title track, which closes out the EP. Jake shows off his pipes here with an acoustic rock ballad – standard Front Porch Step fare, and similar to what we heard on Aware. However, around the halfway point of the six-and-a-half-minute track, cymbals start to build in the background of the soundscape, with Jake repeatedly shout-singing “You made me whole again.” For the first time in a Front Porch Step song, a full band rounds out the final chorus and outro. This is an avenue that Jake should explore further in the future – that guitar solo (performed by Four Year Strong’s Dan O’Connor), playing out over a coffeehouse-style folk-rock jam is the clear highlight of the record.

Whole Again is an enjoyable, albeit short release from Front Porch Step, and I’m excited to see where Jake goes from here. Regardless of whether experimental elements like the exciting full-band moment return in future releases, Whole Again shows Jake flexing his creative muscles and delivering a quality EP to cap off the year.

SCORE: 7.75/10
Review written by John Bazley (Twitter)

Make sure to pick up Whole Again here. Front Porch Step heads out on his first headlining tour early next year with Have Mercy, Alcoa, and Head North. You can check out dates here.

John Bazley
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