Review : Grace Potter & The Nocturnals - The Lion, The Beast, The Beat
PopmattersThe next time someone needs an old abandoned building demolishing they needn’t bother with all that hiring a wrecking ball kerfuffle just get Miss Grace Potter to pop over and blow that Mutha down with her lungs. Honestly Potter’s got the vocal arsenal of a Greek God—part Joplin, part Boudica, all lethal weapon. A voice designed to tear off roofs and tear-up hearts. A force of nature so incendiary her band’s sassily-titled fourth album should come with a health sticker warning “Play Indoors at Owner’s Risk”.
Thus The Lion, The Beast, The Beat proves itself a mischievously devilish quandary. Conceptually it’s “A play on the duality of human nature”; the polished, well-mannered 9-to-5 exterior versus the filthy beast with an appetite for destruction that lurks seething within. Sadly for us the focus here proves too much on the former and so rarely—albeit memorably—on the latter. Do we go to the movies to see Doctor David Banner totterin’ about in his lab coat, lookin’ befuddled at Bunsen burners and test tubes? No way Mr. McGee, we want the Hulk, veins-a-poppin’, pissed off and batshit crazy, tossin’ tanks like stones into the sea and swatting helicopters like mosquitoes. In other words, let’s open the cage…
The album roars into glorious life with the titular track and it feels like the stage is set for one of the year’s great records. All John “The Beast” Bonham drums, smoulderin’ axes and Mrs Mojo Risin’ conjuring the spirits of every bad ass outlaw ever to don a leather jacket. “Someone let the beast out,” caterwauls Potter before unleashin’ some serious heads-down Motorhead-bangin’ boogie. A litany of deserts, motorbikes and burning horizons rise and despite being as subtle as a denim’d knee to the knackers it’s pant-wettingly thrilling. Put simply, you wouldn’t think twice about ditching your dearly beloved and jumpin’ on the back of Potter’s Harley. Not that she’d give you a choice. When it crashes into a fireball collision you almost expect them to holler “Goodnight Earth!” and run off stage, grab a fluffy white robe and dive straight into a waiting limo....full text
HeyreverbIdiosyncratic Vermont-based singer-songwriter Grace Potter’s unlikely trajectory began in 2002 as part of the jam-band circuit and has gone on to include collaborations with artists as divergent as Kenny Chesney and the Black Keys. The diversity in Potter’s resume speaks to her artistic gifts and weaknesses. On her sixth release, “The Lion the Beast the Beat,” Potter credibly tackles different sounds and genres but never latches on to one that seems distinctly her own.
The album is a schizophrenic affair that showcases Potter’s ability as a multi-instrumentalist and powerhouse singer while also hinting a bit too clearly at a venal desire for mainstream acceptance. Songs such as the headache-inducing title track, a ’70s-rock-style amalgam of big riffs and bellowing vocals, recalls war-horse acts like Heart at their worst. The mawkish “Stars” is equally tough to digest, feeling basely contrived to find a home in new country radio’s regular rotation....full text
PremierguitarLast season on The Voice, Alanis Morissette told a timid contender that she needed to find “Bertha”—the big, burning voice inside of her. Compared to solid earlier efforts from a group who warmed up in jam-band land, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals have found Bertha, and she wails on The Lion The Beast The Beat.
The guitar-heavy, multiple-genre attack is presented seamlessly, beginning with a nice, loud statement in the title track that lays chanting over a primitive drum trance before guitarists Scott Tournet and Benny Yurco launch into the shred-osphere. Potter co-wrote several high-energy tracks with Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, including the standout, “Never Go Back,” which begins with a foundation of muscular riffage and fuzz, then blossoms with punchy surf layers and sexy twang. Auerbach’s presence is felt in the subtle way collaboration should be— the nuanced material doesn’t sound like it belongs to somebody else.
Grace sings about lo- and hi-fi in “Turntable,” nodding to the blend of opposites—ups and downs, hard and soft, yells and whispers—before she absolutely nails the epic slow-tempo groove “One Heart Missing.” GPATN might be an anomaly: a band with chops, led by a versatile wild child with supermodel looks who can belt it out while jamming with Warren Haynes or dueting with Kenny Chesney....full text
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