On her solo album, jam band diva Grace Potter catches fire on the ambitious Midnight.
Potter’s songwriting and vocal prowess give integrity to the wide embrace of rock and pop on this super catchy recording. With producer Eric Valentine behind the board and a big crew of musos (including some from her day job band, The Nocturnals), Potter pretty much rocks and wails through anything that grooves.
As her recent excursions into collaborations (Kenny Chesney, The Rolling Stones) prove, Potter’s talent partly derives from her conviction. She sounds like she believes what she sings.
On Your Girl and Empty Heart she skips from new wave punk to hard-driving modern country with no hesitation. Her charisma shines through and steers her songs through style shifts without any change of attack.
Her take on dance pop, Delirious, is a track that echoes Madonna at her best. But Potter doesn’t linger there for long; the next song, Look What We’ve Become, is driven by a swaggering riff that summons the ‘70s hard rock era and smacks it with a techno sensibility.
The album is a real, complete listening package, mainly because it has an authentic character all through it. She approaches the music like a fan with big ears who soaks up influence like a sponge and then releases it in various shades of songs. Her choices would only get so far unless her voice and instrumental skills (guitar, keyboards)didn’t move through the sounds as assuredly as they do.
The energy is high and the songs are instinctual and Potter’s sense of place and style (not pandering to a particular audience) are spot on.
– Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician and longtime music critic for The Morning Star. His column, Street Sounds, appears every Friday.