Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Album review – Grace Potter and the Nocturnals – ‘This Is Somewhere’

Striking a blow for gender equality, Grace Potter leads her band of Nocturnals into the traditionally-male preserve of blue collar American bar-band rock. And, full marks: she proves that a woman can do chest-pounding choruses, earnest rootsy versifying and veiled political dissent just as effectively as the most macho of Tom Petty wannabes.

As the title suggests, This Is Somewhere is decided yet vague. Potter’s voice is strong, unwavering and compelling, while the band sounds entirely at home knocking out driving, soul-inflected rock that would be at home in a stadium or a dive. But the lyrics are allusive and elusive, aiming towards the universal and filled with conventional rock lingo. The clearest themes are patriotism (in the critical-of-government sense), “trouble”, life on the road, people called “babe”, and final judgement. Are the men on the front cover recreating the Iwo Jima flag-raising, or just struggling with a gazebo?

The performance is impressive – flawless, in a sense – but its single-mindedness and its wide-eyed homages to rock mythology sacrifices any sense of intimacy or self-doubt, qualities that would lift it out of self-imposed genre limitations. But once the 24-year-old Potter finds her own stories to match the voice, she could be Gillian Welch with powerballads. (This would be a good thing).

Artist homepage

Buy This Is Somewhere


Passion of the Weiss said...

I like this one quite a bit too. Nice write up.

Chere said...

good to read your take on the album - amazing how varying the reviews are - decidedly dependent on the reviewer's perspective. The fact that Grace writes her own lyrics and the music - then sings AND plays - wow. The whole deal is what she, and her Nocs, give.