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Grace Potter

What do you do when you're a hard rockin' support act to the likes of The Black Crows? The answer is easy - make the most of your assets, and take a tilt at the main prize.

In the case of Grace Potter & The Nocturnals - a Vermont based band that have been paying their dues since 2004 - their main asset is fairly obvious: the lady herself who has a tremendously soulful blues based voice that would put most of the competition to shame.

So with their third studio based, and first UK album release, they've crossed the line to the commercial side with the help of producer Mark Batson (Dr Dre, Eminem, Jay-Z) who also contributes to the writing on a number of tracks.

But there's two things that set Grace Potter & The Nocturnals apart from their contemporaries. The first is a Grace - vocalist who, unlike many before her, actually lives up to Janis Joplin comparisons. And if that isn't enough she's had a serious makeover for this latest album - legs as long as the Ventura Highway, cheekbones to die for and blow dried blonde extensions. She looks like a babe but sings like a horny angel.

The second is the band themselves. With a line-up of Scott Tournett (lead guitars), Benny Yurco (rhythm guitars), Catherine Popper (bass) and Matt Burr (drums) and with Grace adding keys, the band play with a loose ass kicking swagger reminiscent of late sixties / early seventies bands era. It's a raw and organic sound that is seldom heard in these overly rehearsed and note perfect days. In particular, the excellent guitar work from Tournett and Yurco which has a wonderfully 'live' sound.

As for the set itself, it kicks off with two of the finest numbers on the album Paris (Ooh La La) which rocks like a bitch and will be the next single release and the sultry Oasis with its huge hook and Santana style lead guitar work. Both will have toes tapping, air guitars dusted down and the hairs standing on the back of your neck, forearms and legs.

And of course there's the current single Tiny Light which starts in sultry Joss Stone territory before Grace shifts effortlessly up a gear into Janis Joplin mode and the band kick in for the final furlong building to an orgasmic climax that is sadly edited from the single release.

With 13 tracks spanning 51 minutes you certainly can't complain about value for money and other highlights include the funky Medicine and Only Love, the obligatory big ballad Colours (destined for much arena lighter / mobile waving) and the rock 'n' roll of Hot Summer Night.

If there is a shortcoming it's that when the band lift their foot off the pedal - as they do on a couple of country orientated numbers (Low Road and Things I Never Needed) - they tend to lose their 'edge'.

But as a whole, the album is a quite superb effort, and if there's any justice Grace Potter & The Nocturnals will explode on the UK scene in the same way that the Kings Of Leon did a couple of years ago. One of the names to watch in 2010.


Review by Pete Whalley


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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