Grace Potter and the Nocturnals self-title album is a brilliantly funky collection: from the electric guitar chords that punctuate album opener ‘Paris Ooh La La’ to the sweeping ballads of ‘Goodbye Kiss’, there is such a wide range of musical delights that it’s impossible to get even the slightest bit bored. Grace’s sultry, sexy tones sit atop a cornucopia of instruments, all of which are balanced to perfection – just check the brilliant guitar backing and solo that springs out of nowhere in ‘Paris’. She sounds something like Janis Joplin would if she were to collaborate with the Rolling Stones and, as combinations go, it is a winning formula.
With this gorgeous combination of sound coming through across pretty much every track you’d think the album’s emotional core might get lost but, thankfully, that’s not the case. However, it’s not until the closing tracks that the real impact of the album really hits home – ‘Hot Summer Night’ is possibly one of the best soul tracks of the last ten years; it’s even arguable that we’ve not had something that deserves these sort of plaudits since Joplin herself left us over thirty years ago. Its funk-cum-country sound is something that takes the listener by surprise but quickly shows all the signs of a true classic.
Where the pace slows, as it does in ‘Goodbye Kiss’ and album closer ‘Things I Never Needed’, you could be forgiven for considering the lack of urgency to be a mistake, but without these moments to catch your breath, the obvious quality and energy of other tracks would be diluted. Neither of these tracks are poor; in fact they give Grace a chance to showcase her obvious talent without the need to permanently rock the house – and when the rockin’ returns you’ll appreciate it all the more.
Albums like this don’t come along very often, but when they do we have to reach out and embrace them for what they are.