I first heard about Grace Potter and the Nocturnals a few years ago when the band’s single, ‘Falling or Flying’ was featured on Grey’s Anatomy. I never really got into the show, but occasionally checked out the season soundtrack(s) on iTunes. Potter’s vocals resonated with a haunting, sincere, and powerful timbre throughout the entire song. At first, I considered the band to fall into the country genre, but after listening to their latest self-titled album, I’ve come to realize that the band uses a unique combination of classic rock, country, alternative, and blues.
People often compare Potter to a mix between Janis Joplin, Alanis Morissette, and Stevie Nicks – a unique combination, but an incredible compliment. In her faster, rock-centered songs, this opinion is made evident by her balance between strong, powerful vocals and eloquent pronunciation. The ballads contained on this album have similar vocal qualities, but Potter gracefully (no pun intended) takes on a style all her own. ‘Colors’ is one of my favorite songs on the album because of her beautiful use of dynamic tension and lyrical expression.
The album opens with ‘Paris (Ooh La La)’ which immediately exhibits the band’s classic rock influences. ‘Tiny Light,’ the featured song from the album, incorporates classic rock musical elements with alternative lyrics and vocals to create a truly memorable addition to the album. The song begins with a ballad-ish quality that transforms into a rock chorus backed by powerful vocals and then transitions into a two minute classic rock jam session at the end of the song. Simply put, it’s fantastic. Check out the video:
Honestly, it’s difficult to find fault with this album – you can’t help but like it. Potter’s unique vocals combined with a classic rock/blues instrumental sound really distinguishes this album from other ‘Top 10’ albums in similar categories. Essentially, the band is able to blend genres so effectively that they create one all to their own. My only complaint is that sometimes the vocals can be a bit too overpowering after listening to each track in succession; so much so that I had to take a break mid-album from the high intensity. Potter’s vocals are just as outstanding in slower, more intimate songs and I would have liked to hear a few more of these to break up the high-hitting power of the majority of the album.
It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of country, classic rock, alternative rock, or blues – check this album out. If you enjoy powerful female performers backed by an excellent band (Brandi Carlile, Pat Benatar, Karen Carpenter, etc…), you will absolutely love this album. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are not an indie rock band from Vermont – they are starting to get the attention they finally deserve. With recent performances on late night television, opening for Dave Matthews Band in 2008, and performing at live music festivals like Bonnaroo for the past few years, expect things to just keep getting better and better for this outstanding band.