released June 8th, 2010

from the album - Tiny Light

from all music

Born in Waitsfield, VT, Grace Potter grew up in a family that encouraged her artistic pursuits in areas from music to theater, the latter of which she was studying at St. Lawrence University when drummer Matt Burr heard her singing at an open-mike night in 2002 and asked if she would form a band with him. She declined, but when her high-school friend and bass player Courtright Beard enrolled in their college, she reconsidered the invitation, and the three of them began to write and perform jazz-influenced songs, Potter also taking duties on the Hammond B-3. Soon, guitarist Scott Tournet joined, and the bandmembers, calling themselves Grace Potter & the Nocturnals — thanks to their late-night practice habits — began to think seriously about making music their careers. When Burr graduated in 2003, they decided to move back to Vermont to some land that Potter's parents owned and dedicate themselves more fully to their craft, replacing Beard (who chose to stay at school) with Bryan Dondero in the process. In 2004 they self-released their debut, Original Soul, receiving positive response and comparisons to artists like Norah Jones and early Bonnie Raitt. This in turn garnered major-label offers, but the band preferred to build its fan base by constant touring and festival appearances. Word of their electric performance spread, and shortly after their second album, Nothing But the Water — also self-released — came out in 2005, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals signed to Hollywood Records, with their third full-length, This Is Somewhere, hitting shelves nationwide in August 2007. In 2010, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals was released; Hollywood pulled out all the stops in order to break the band internationally.

album review

For five years, Grace Potter & Nocturnals have been hammering it out on stages large and small, playing 200 shows a year, and impressing audiences in the U.S. They've recorded two previous albums —2005's rightfully acclaimed Nothing But the Water, and their Hollywood Records debut This Is Somewhere. The sophomore effort failed musically; its songs were unfocused and sloppy, and its production lethargic. Three years later, with two new bandmembers in bassist Catherine Popper and rhythm guitarist Benny Turco, and the aid of super producer Mark Batson (Jay-Z, Snoop Dog, Beyoncι, Alicia Keys), the Nocturnals sound like a band reinvigorated. This self-titled set is very polished — from cover photo to last note, it's designed to scale the Billboard charts — yet it offers a representative showcase of the band's strengths. And while it doesn't come off as spontaneously as their live gigs, it's not supposed to. The glammed-up Nocturnals are still a tough, few-frills rock band, and despite his pedigree, Batson — who co-wrote six of 13 songs with Potter here — gets that. "Paris" kicks off the set. It's introduced by a mean grunt from Potter and a twin guitar blast. With Scott Tournett's lead guitar slicing through Matt Burr's drums, and Popper's funky bassline, the singer — with power and pitch — lays down the brazen lyric: "If I was a man, I'd make my move/If I was a blade I'd shave you smooth . . . " On "Medicine," another rocker, Potter stakes claim to her man though she's competing with a mysterious seductress. The riff and refrain are instantly memorable. The dual guitar leads are balanced by her B-3, and the tune's bluesy feel is seductive. "Hot Summer Night" is a nasty roots jam with Potter beating the hell out of an upright piano over trashy guitars and handclaps ΰ la the Faces. The ballads are a more mixed bag. "Low Road," influenced deeply by Memphis soul, puts Potter's stellar voice and the meld of B-3, guitars, and rhythm section inside the bellybone of the listener, and it's sexy as hell. That said, "Colors," and "Things I Never Needed" are both overly long and indulgent; and the reggae-tinged "Tiny Lights" feels contrived. The midtempo numbers — the soul-drenched "That Phone" and the blazing "Only Love," with its infectious bassline and distorted guitars — work to fine effect. In sum, this the most representative outing from Grace Potter & the Nocturnals to date, and displays, however slickly, a heady quotient of strut, crackle, and groove.

Track Listing

1 Paris (Ooh La La) Potter 3:15
2 Oasis Batson, Potter 4:41
3 Medicine Burr, Potter, Tournet 4:06
4 Goodbye Kiss Potter 3:33
5 Tiny Light Batson, Potter 4:43
6 Colors Potter 5:15
7 Only Love Batson, Potter 3:22
8 Money Poe, Potter 2:54
9 One Short Night Potter 3:50
10 Low Road Batson, Potter 4:39
11 That Phone Batson, Potter 3:18
12 Hot Summer Night Batson, Potter 3:22
13 Things I Never Needed Potter 4:11