Grace Potter & the Nocturnals came onto the scene as one of the unsung heroes of the 2000s musical climate. Deliberately old-fashioned, Grace Potter has more in common musically with Janis Joplin than Norah Jones. The Nocturnals released their second record in 2007, titled ‘This Is Somewhere’ (a reference to Neil Young’s ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere). Speaking of Young, his influence can be heard throughout this record. The great thing about this band, though, is that they’re capable of paying homage to artists like Janis Joplin and Neil Young without having it sound like a cheap gimmick; the Nocturnals are a genuine, rough and tumble rock n’ roll band.
From the opening track, “Ah Mary”, one thing that is quite clear about this record from the start is that it’s a bit less driven by the Southern Gothic vibe than the band’s previous record was. This time around, things are a bit leaner and a bit more traditionally rock (Roots rock, if you will.). Keep this in mind, because the next track, “Stop the Bus” is the most upbeat and rocking moment on the entire record. Potter definitely proves that she’s a force to be reckoned with and is totally capable of playing with the boys. However, the absolute highlight of this record is “Mr. Columbus”. No question about it. This is not only the highlight of this record, but it’s stands tall among the best songs in the Nocturnals’ whole catalog. There’s nothing fancy about this track, it’s essentially just a catchy folk pop tune, but it’s an absolute delight for the ears. The great debate surrounding this record will be which of the ballads is superior, “Apologies” or “Falling or Flying” (Ahem, “Apologies”, ahem.) These two ballads on this record maintain a certain modesty about themselves that some of the Nocturnals’ later ones, namely the ones on ‘The Lion the Beast the Beat’, sadly don’t have. On this record, however, the ballads feel much like those you might find on a Faces/early Rod Stewart record.
All in all, this record is a pretty fair effort. This is far from what would be their best record, but when it’s good it’s damn good. Sadly, the level of excellence that this record’s best tracks set in place isn’t carried out throughout its full duration. A handful of the tracks on this record feel rather uninspired and act as filler for the highlights. With that said, the Nocturnals definitely have given hope to old-school rock fans who view the genre as dead or in the process of dying. Simply having this band on the musical radar is enough to bring a smile to every face who longs for the days of good ole blues-based rock n’ roll; unpretentious; matter of fact; precise rock n’ roll music that has for the most part been swallowed by a world of false idols and pretenders. At their best, this band is one of the great examples of why rock n’ roll is incapable of actually dying. This is an undeniable fact, even if it seems a bit far-fetched based on this particular record’s lesser moments.