Midnight, by Grace Potter
Some artists tend to fall in-between genres, and it can be hard for those of us who are not deeply involved in those fanbases or genres to really appreciate. Grace Potter, for example, is an artist that I am not greatly familiar with but who has a certain amount of passionate fans. Normally, this tends to alienate me from an artist, but given that I tend to enjoy both the sort of country/Americana/Adult Alternative that this artist tends to straddle between, I was willing to give this album a listen and see how much I enjoyed it. Despite the genre confusion that this artist is involved in, is there a coherent and enjoyable sound that this album presents? Let’s find out.
The album begins with “Hot To The Touch,” a song that rocks surprisingly hard about what seems like a doomed relationship, but one that is filled with a great deal of infatuation. “Alive Tonight” is an upbeat song and pleasant enough, but not a song that tends to offer a great deal of depth beneath the repetitive hook and the admittedly energetic instrumentals. “Your Girl” is a song about a really confusing romantic situation where the narrator’s fondness for the girl of the object of the song keeps her from going further with someone who keeps on trying to get with her. “Empty Heart” is a bluesy song about the artist’s seemingly unsuccessful efforts to start a relationship with someone who has been through a tough time, with an upbeat pseudogospel choir but a repetitive hook. “The Miner” is a lovely song with intricate instrumentation about a dysfunctional relationship with someone who keeps breaking the narrator down, never a good thing. “Delirious” shows an insomniac narrator wanting to enjoy some late night sort of activity with other people who are awake like she is. The concept is an interesting enough one, but not fleshed out with a lot of detail, and filled with a fairly commonly repetitive hook, but at least the lengthy instrumental coda adds interest to the song. “Look What We’ve Become” is a driving song that seems dedicated to those who were negative about the artist and some unspecified “us,” but again the details are rather sketchy about who the other person or people are included in the titular “we” or what indeed they have become. “Instigators” is another driving and highly repetitive song where the singer tries to make herself appear to be some sort of bad girl who starts trouble with others. “Biggest Fan” offers encouragement to someone she wants to sweep away who she considers herself the biggest fan of, which offers a somewhat dark and obsessive view of love, but also one that is unfortunately all too self-absorbed. “Low” offers a promise of commitment and encouragement, but while it has interesting music, the lyrics are pretty repetitive, far more so than one would expect for an act aiming for AAA superstardom. “Nobody’s Born With A Broken Heart” tries to give a story about lonely people, but even if the intent is good and the music and production are excellent, the song itself has sketchily themed lyrics and a repetitive hook like so many other songs here. The album ends with “Let You Go,” which given the title is predictably a sad piano ballad about what appears like the collapse of the singer’s marriage to her former bandmate which appears to have prompted the unrecognized collapse of her group and the solo turn represented by this album.
The extent to which you enjoy this album depends a great deal on what sort of expectations you bring to the album. I expected a country album that would have rich lyrical detail and ended up with an album that reminded me of pop music that is not popular, where one does not necessary understand why. By and large, the production and instrumentation on this album is excellent, but the songs are consistently underwritten, with repetitive hooks and lyrics that try to evoke feelings that they do not earn with their writing. This is an album one can enjoy well enough if it appeared on the radio, but it doesn’t really leave any sort of deep resonance that comes from a well-crafted song. This material reminds me of Andrew Gold, the sort of singer-songwriter who tries to do everything while lacking in lyrical depth simply because they were successful enough and were told that they were good enough to do it all. This album would have been bettered by some time spent re-writing the songs and making them more detailed and less dependent on the supposed charm of the singer that seems wasted on me, at least. This is by no means a bad album, but it was disappointing.