Potter sheds southern rock vibe for more mainstream sound

by: RACHEL MEANS/Staff Writer

When it was announced that Grace Potter would be releasing a solo album, I was nervous.

Like many of Potter’s fans, I wasn’t sure if the singer would be able to stand on her own. Now, having heard the album, I’m pleased to say my fears were unwarranted.

Hailing from Vermont, Potter is the front woman for the American rock band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. In addition to being a singer, Potter plays many instruments, including electric piano and electric and acoustic guitar.

Consisting of 12 tracks, “Midnight” is a bit of a departure from the heavy sound fans of Grace Potter and Nocturnals have come to expect. Potter’s vocals remain strong and soulful, but the songs themselves have shed the southern rock and blues vibes in favor of a more mainstream sound.

The album opens with a track called “Hot to the Touch,” a very typical, upbeat pop-rock song, and that sets the tone for the remainder of the album. As they go on, the songs slowly get more bouncy sounding, only slowing down once, with a ballad called “The Miner,” that’s reminiscent of both the ‘90s alternative rock scene and the country rock music made popular in the early 2000s.

The first half of the album comes to a head with a song called “Delirious.” This track blends typical pop chords with heavy synthesizers to create a sound similar to disco music. It also pulls from the psychedelic genre to create a very odd-sounding bridge that complements the theme of the song.

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While pleasant, the opening of “Midnight” is all together forgettable. It’s certainly fun to listen to, but nothing about it stands out from the thousands of other pop songs playing on the radio these days.

However, after the halfway point, the album takes a sharp turn. Beginning with the track “Look What We’ve Become,” the songs finally begins to take on the familiar sound of past Grace Potter music. The synthesizers and keyboards are replaced with steel guitar and heavy bass, as the southern rock and blues influences come back with a vengeance.

It is at this point that the vocals really start to shine. The lighter sounds of the first half of the album left Potter little room to show off the extent of her range. But once the stronger and more familiar rock sounds took over, she really starts to belt it. This change is most noticeable in the love song, “Low,” and the album’s final track, “Let You Go.”

For these reasons, the latter half of the album contains most of the more memorable songs, including the standout track “Nobody’s Born with a Broken Heart,” which is, with its combination of catchy music and touching lyrics, impossible not to sing along to.

Overall, I would say that Potter’s “Midnight” has done what it set out to do. If you’re a fan of Potter already, the later tracks and her beautiful voice will satisfy your craving for new material. If you’ve never heard the music of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, the more mainstream edge on the beginning of the album will make the music more accessible.

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