|↑ Grace Potter — Midnight (August 14, 2015) ↓|
Grace Potter — Midnight (August 14, 2015) Location: Burlington, VERMONT, USA
Album release: August 14, 2015
Record Label: Hollywood
01. Hot to the Touch 3:31
02. Alive Tonight 2:53
03. Your Girl 3:39
04. Empty Heart 3:16
05. The Miner 4:02
06. Delirious 4:57
07. Look What We’ve Become 3:12
08. Instigators 3:09
09. Biggest Fan 3:42
10. Low 4:05
11. Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart 3:54
12. Let You Go 4:15
℗ 2015 Hollywood Records, Inc. © Grace Potter. In this Feb. 4, 2011 photo, musician Grace Potter, from the band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, poses for a portrait in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
ANN POWERS, AUGUST 05, 201511:01 PM ET
•«»• All hail pop rock! Few categories in contemporary music are more maligned, yet what resides within this one can be tremendously energizing, adventurous and fun. •«»• The term "pop rock" affixes itself to all kinds of things — new–wave songs by women celebrating the weekend, like the Go–Go's "We Got The Beat"; boy–band charmers with a little extra kick, like One Direction's "Little Black Dress"; dance songs with guitars, like Donna Summer's "Bad Girls"; stuff by guitar bands that takes an open–minded turn, like Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me." Some people think it's too shiny and too cheap, but it's actually inclusive and progressive; it's a party that's a little messy; it's sincere. And in Grace Potter's hands, on her first solo album Midnight, pop rock gets a real kick in the cherry–red pants.
•«»• Potter has risen in the rock world leading the Nocturnals, a super–solid band that's proven versatile enough to integrate plenty of soul, but which always goes back to the basic rock riff. Within that group, Potter became known as a belter and a strutter, with a dynamic range that could get a little overwrought. Potter has proven her versatility guesting with everyone from Kenny Chesney toThe Rolling Stones, but she clearly needed a new main collaborator to break out of her sweet spot. Working with L.A. producer Eric Valentine on Midnight, she remains her aggressive, earthy self while getting playful in new ways. With its songs about sex and dancing, self–confidence and risk, Midnight is a mid–career turn for Potter that proves genuinely freeing.
•«»• "Your Girl" and the aptly named "Delirious" reference Prince circa 1999, while "What We've Become" shows traces of MGMT's "Electric Feel." "Empty Heart" connects to the contemporary country sound of Little Big Town. There's a trace of Tom Petty here, a nod to Paramore there. The time– and genre–hopping sound makes sense, given Valentine's resume: He's worked with Nickel Creek and Good Charlotte and Queens Of The Stone Age, and because he started out as a drummer, his eclecticism shows in Midnight's colorful rhythmic palette. Matt Burr, drummer for the Nocturnals and Potter's husband, keeps his kick drum on alert, as the grit of rock 'n' roll remains central to Potter's approach. But in these songs, it's a grounding element, not an obligation.
•«»• Potter and the musicians who joined her at Valentine's celebrated studio, Barefoot — including most of the Nocturnals — obviously relish stepping away from the guitar–jam prerogatives of the summer–shed touring circuit and trying out synths, sequencers and arrangements that are chock–full of experiments, yet don't feel too busy. Potter's powerhouse voice remains central, and it's a blast to hear her try out being more conversational or funky. "Sing hallelujah or sing any song you want to hear," she intones in the sparkling ballad "Nobody's Born With A Broken Heart." She's doing just that. •«»• http://www.npr.org/REVIEW
•«»• Across five albums as the leader of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, the Vermont–bred singer, songwriter, and multi–instrumentalist Grace Potter has earned plenty of name recognition. Enter Midnight, her first solo album. Potter and the Nocturnals broke through with their 2010 self–titled album, which debuted at No. 19 on the Billboard 200.
•«»• People like Kenny Chesney started taking notice of Potter and enlisting her for their own songs — in this case, Chesney’s Grammy–nominated “You and Tequila” and, later, “El Cerrito Place” and this year’s hit “Wild Child”. Even if Potter isn’t naturally a country singer (and she isn’t), country fans have taken a liking to her, widening her fan base and demanding this moment, her solo debut.
•«»• But there were stops along the way after the initial breakthrough. Another album from Potter and the Nocturnals, 2012’s The Lion the Beast the Beat, followed that 2010 eponymous effort and “You and Tequila”. Potter has also climbed enough rungs that she and her new solo band were able to open up for The Rolling Stones at two tour stops in June, with Potter entrusted to sing “Gimme Shelter” alongside Mick Jagger at Minneapolis’ TCF Bank Stadium. And why not: Whether or not a superstar like Jagger or Chesney is with her in the studio or onstage, she’s a vivacious presence destined for her own success, separate from the Nocturnals.
•«»• By now, Potter has traveled practically everywhere in the realms of Americana and traditional rock music, and done so ably. On Midnight, she goes for an even broader range of sounds, including (in order of least surprising to most) The Band–esque heartland stomp, vaguely twangy Southern rock, sensual new wave glide, and wiggly post–Pharrell funk. It’s a bold array, and the songs themselves are pretty bold, too, with multi–tracked choruses, erupting electric guitar riffs, and propulsive percussion. It’s a concise, hooky collection of songs with which the 32–year–old Potter has given herself chances to become bigger than ever as a solo name.
•«»• That’s one way of looking at things, anyway. Another view says that these songs are too bouncy and crystalline to be subtle or even particularly artistic, and maybe that doesn’t align with the fine work Potter has done with the Nocturnals. Things quiet down during the album’s final third with “Low”, but even that song builds enough that it feels as colossal as jubilant lead single “Alive Tonight”. That’s not necessarily a flaw, though the Nocturnals’ understated whimsicality has made for some of their defining moments. When they get to the closer on their albums — take This Is Somewhere’s “Big White Gate”, for example — they always seem to hit on a refined grandeur that keeps substance at the heart of its audacity. The songs on Midnight, on the other hand, convey their meaning at the expense of specificity. “You and me, together we’re gonna be/ The instigators/ Revolution loves company/ We are the revelators,” Potter declares on “Instigators”. The exceptions, like penultimate song “Nobody’s Born with a Broken Heart” and its narrative verses, are rare.
•«»• Clearly, Midnight was designed as a hit machine, or at least any song here could be a single. “There’s nothing like a party to make you move this way/ There’s nothing stopping me from sweeping you away,” Potter glows on “Biggest Fan”, a song about reveling in the emotional highs of a party and, seemingly, a statement about this album’s bubbly nature. Whether ebullient, regretful, or somewhere in between, Potter is an engaging center of attention, coming up with impressive (if under–nuanced) performances more often than not. © The Associated Press
By JON CARAMANICA, AUG. 12, 2015
•«»• (A version of this review appears in print on August 13, 2015, on page C3 of the New York edition with the headline: Review: Grace Potter Stretches Her Sound on ‘Midnight,’ Her Debut Solo Album.) •«»•
BY MICHAEL MADDEN ON AUGUST 06, 2015, 6:01 AM, SCORE: B–
|↑ Grace Potter — Midnight (August 14, 2015) ↓|