I wonder if Grace Potter is taking a page from the Neil Young playbook. When Neil releases a solo album, you never know what you’re going to get. He could be giving you an acoustic hippie revere, a techno geek romp or maybe some mangled electric guitar experimentation. When Neil brings out Crazy Horse, you can pretty well count on a rough and ready rock and roll record. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have cultivated a loyal following with a blues-based rootsy rock sound and an electrifying stage show. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are a dependable, mid-level act that can fill theater and festival stages around the world. Where do they go from here?
“Forgive me if I’m not myself tonight” are the first words Grace sings on Midnight. You can feel the continuity to her earlier work in Potter’s voice, the way she crafts a song and the fire in the instrumental breaks. “Alive Tonight” picks up from where The Lion, the Beast, the Beat left off. It’s got the driving rock sound, even if it is polished to a high sheen. When Grace channels mid-career Madonna on “Delirious” we know we’re heading into the mainstream. “Your Girl” is a complicated relationship tale with a protagonist reluctant to get into an affair with a guy because she likes his girlfriend, played out over a funky groove that could have originated in the Orlando boy band factory in the ’90s. It’s a catchy tune.
So Midnight is Grace Potter’s shot at the pop brass ring. Will she find a legion of new fans? Will Grace’s long time fans be willing to take this ride with her? We will find out soon enough.