Having recently reviewed the first single, 'Tiny Light', from Miss Potter and her band of insomniacs I am very pleasantly surprised by the album from which it was borne. Surprised mainly by their energy and sheer power as well as the obvious enthusiasm with which it was produced. I had questioned the choice of first single on the grounds of it being quite an ordinary track. Grace's voice shone but the single itself failed to ignite a spark. I stick by that.
Whoever sanctioned the release of Tiny Light, and subsequent murder in terms of mastering, remixing, producing etc. needs a severe and prolonged thrashing. Having put Tiny Light out (!) as a single to showcase Grace Potter & The Nocturnals you would imagine that the band and management had agreed on a defining piece that would encapsulate their very essence to hopefully attract a larger audience. If you listen to the radio edit and the album version of this track they are miles apart. So you attract your listener on the grounds that he or she likes the lifeless, mellow, middle ground of the twitching corpse that had been left by Mark Batson (Co-composer!) and Andrew Scheps, for them to take a listen and find it's nothing like what they expected, so no extra sales. Meanwhile the folk itching for Robert Plant in female form to belt out some ostensibly very American tunes are left clueless as to their existence through the mediocrity of the single. Baffling is the only way to describe the processes that have lead to this series of events.
The eponymously titled album is brim full of fiery passion and pleasantly devoid of pretension. It's difficult to imagine a British Female artist of our time being able to sound as comfortable performing this type of Rock and Blues infused soulful music. The performances have more in common with Axle Rose, Debbie Harry, Courtney Love and Juliette Lewis than they do with the 60's folk flavoured mix on Tiny Light. When Grace "Rocks out" she surely does. It's naively pleasing and refreshingly straight forward Rock N' Roll belted out with conviction.
'Paris' kicks things off and immediately gets your hips shaking and toes tapping. Guitar riffs, deft drumming and Grace's voice combining sublimely in a joyously 'American Woman' kinda way. 'Oasis' tempers the pace to expose further the delights of terrifically expressive razor cut vocal of Miss Potter whilst also providing some well worked lyrics....
Let it cover you in grace,
Let it take you from this place.
And as your heart races,
Pack your suit cases.
And in the middle of the desert,
There's an oasis.
Robert Palmer, through 'Bad Case Of Loving You', should probably get some credit for the clear similarities to Grace's 'Medicine'. The opening bars could leave you going either way. That aside the track is belted out with venom, and boy can Grace scream. (Here, and, especially later on .....'Tiny Light') On the piano and string accompanied 'Colors' and closer, 'Things I Never Needed', Grace and the band show how well they can do a slower more ballad like number. The warmth, depth and texture of Grace's voice carrying the tunes with the loving caress of a proud mother.
'Goodbye Kiss' and 'One Short Night' don't work as well, it's like the band trying to do their take on Blondies 'Tide Is High' moment but with a country edge. Where Grace & The Nocturnals work best is on tracks like 'Only Love', 'Hot Summer Night' and 'Money' where the music gets soaked in a fabulously filthy trailer trash scent. (You know it's probably wrong but once in while why not treat yourself to a 'bit of rough' as a self indulgence?)
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals have given us an uncomplicated slice of American Rock N' Roll sung with tremendous vigour and played with intent. The album doesn't always work but the pieces that do easily make up for any of the short falls. She and the band give it their all throughout as well as giving a 'heads up' as to what to expect from what surely must be a very electrified and enjoyable live set.