This Is Somewhere (Ragged Company/Hollywood Records) marks the coming of age of the young, Vermont-based rock band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. To say that this album makes good on the band's...Expand
This Is Somewhere (Ragged Company/Hollywood Records) marks the coming of age of the young, Vermont-based rock band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. To say that this album makes good on the band's immense promise would be an understatement. While these assertions quite naturally invite skepticism, we respond: "just insert and press 'play'."
The band's timeless, organic brand of American rock & roll is fully in evidence throughout This Is Somewhere, starting with "Ah Mary," with its languid verses exploding into arena-scaled choruses in what is clearly a call to action. This heart-pumping rocker sets the stage for a dynamic song cycle that encompasses "Stop the Bus," a churning anthem that recalls Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers circa Damn the Torpedoes, the love-as-war lament "Apologies," the paean to a battered New Orleans "Ain't No Time," the soulful, horn-accented "Mastermind" and the concluding stunner "Big White Gate."
Potter's timely and eloquent songs-some of them intensely personal, others politically charged-immediately lodge themselves in the listener's head (pretty much defining the de rigueur term "sticky") and bore in deeper with each successive play. This band has something else going for it - Potter's innate star quality. As critic Jeff Davidson wrote last September in a piece posted on TMZ.com, "she is easily the most glamorous star to rise from the jam scene, and her million-dollar smile makes her as desirable as any pop songstress. The fact that she's amazingly talented makes her even sexier."
A brief history lesson: The band-now based in Waitsfield on some acreage owned by Grace's parents that the locals affectionately refer to as "Potterville"-was formed in 2002 by Potter and Burr while attending St. Lawrence University in upstate New York. After Tournet joined them, the nascent unit recorded its homemade debut album, Original Soul, in 2004, with Dondero completing the lineup just weeks before they banged out their second album, the self-produced Nothing but the Water, in a 19th century haybarn-turned theater on the campus of Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt. The album was well-received by the press: No Depression's Jeff Vrabel praised it for the frontwoman's "youthful, windows-down abandon," while Rolling Stone's David Fricke intoned that Potter "is poised for bigger things."