Featured Image courtesy Hollywood Records.
Multi-instrumentalist and soulful vocalist Grace Potter recently released her first solo album, Midnight. Originally fronting The Nocturnals, who had a more folk feel, Potter brings her accomplished vocals into a polished and glamorous pop-rock setting, while maintaining some of her voice’s organic aspects.
The lead single, “Alive Tonight” is an obvious radio hit, full of bold, empowering vocal takes and a raging chorus with glittery guitar riffs and dance-y beats. The song and lyrics are pretty simple, revolving around a staple structure and the general idea of most pop songs, being “We are alive tonight!” Quite a few other songs focus on those self-indulgent themes, notably “Instigators” and “Look What We’ve Become,” but Potter’s more artistic moments come elsewhere on the record. Keeping on with her pop sensibilities, “Delirious” might be the most successful in bringing funk and soul through a wall of rock. The thumping bass drives the beat, and Potter delivers somewhat relaxed vocals for the first portion of the song. However, the instruments significantly beef up by the end of the song, and Potter intensely pushes her vocal cords to their limit as the music cuts out.
Potter is obviously a talented hit-song writer, but her most appealing work comes with a more sincere and emotional approach. “Empty Heart” brings in an acoustic guitar, and feels like a heavenly country song compared to the rest of the album. It has a catchy beat, along with electronics and piano that keep the song interesting, while group vocals come in later to emphasize the song’s message, “I want to fill up your empty heart.” The final quarter of the album follows this more thoughtful approach, and closes the record out with three heartfelt, emotional tracks. The most notable is “Low,” where Potter creates an infectious melody to express feeling down but having someone who cares enough to be right there with you, “This city is a dirty drug, but baby so is love, and we ain’t kicking either one tonight.” Its still a pop song, and follows a simple structure, but Potter delivers it with a tenacity that makes it resonate as something more meaningful.
Midnight is, all-in-all, a successful pop record in that it puts party anthems alongside personal, thoughtful songs. The pop numbers lack Potter’s artistic intellect, but her creativity is still apparent when she trades in the synthesized beats for her now-dusty acoustic. Those songs glimmer with personal sensibility and feel endlessly more authentic, but the album is interesting in how it pairs up genres in one album. There is no denying that Potter is a master of her stunning voice as well as a skilled performer, but overall the album would feel more cohesive and genuine if the lyrical content was as personal as it is on tracks like “Low.”
Listen to Midnight below!
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