Monday, August 2, 2010

CD Review: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals - Self-titled

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer. The day I submitted it to the magazine, this band was the musical guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show. As Ellen (and Dan Rowan, back in the day) might say, “What a coinkydink!”

Grace Potter’s powerful voice has helped establish a strong following for her band over the course of three studio albums, and this self-titled effort will no doubt accelerate that trend. It’s an eclectic collection where the rock songs are tempered with funk and blues, and the ballads are heartfelt and soulful. Potter occasionally indulges in overwrought yelps and grunts, but for the most part, her vocals give each song just the right amount of juice.

The first single and video, “Tiny Light,” starts slow and melodic as it mixes ominous lyrics with a message of hope, and ends with Scott Tournet blazing away on lead guitar. The hard rocking “Paris (Ooh La La)” taps into Heart and Labelle, while the bluesy “Medicine” spins a mysterious tale of woman who loses her man to spell-casting temptress. There are a surprising number of ballads here considering Potter’s vocal firepower, but they do showcase her ability to tackle a wide range of material. The lilting “Goodbye Kiss,” with its Caribbean rhythms, is particularly impressive.


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