Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Longtime fans of Grace Potter will likely be relieved to learn the singer-songwriter has abandoned the slick, synth heavy, commercial pop from 2015’s Midnight. Even the Daylight title of this new set indicates things have taken almost a 180 degree turn four years later.
That’s true in her life as well. Perhaps it’s part of this more organic sounding musical approach on her long awaited follow-up. Since the last release, Potter has divorced, remarried (to this — and last — disc’s producer/multi-instrumentalist Eric Valentine), dropped her band and had a child. Those major life events are reflected in these eleven songs.
Overall it’s a more subdued, soulful and introspective affair. Tracks like the opening “Love Is Love,” which seems to be about her own infidelity (“I never said I was a saint…”), “Every Heartbeat”’s pure attraction (“You bring me joy I’ve never known”), the sexed-up soul of “Desire” (“My soul is on fire with desire”) and “Everyday Love” with even more hot lyrics (“I never knew that what I had was wrong/ until I had what’s right”) telescope their topics and her newfound romance in the titles alone.
Musically Potter has shifted to a soul/rock vibe with an emphasis on the former. When she does pound out crunchy guitars and howls on the clunky “On My Way,” the effect feels forced and uncomfortable. She’s got a strong voice but is no match for Heart’s Ann Wilson who she seems to be emulating.
Thankfully, the vast majority of tunes like the piano led “Back to Me” with its soulful backing vocals, ride a more subtle, Memphis styled groove that makes better use of Potter’s vocal strengths. Liberal horns throughout also cement that musical connection. The singer closes with the searing bluesy title track where she seeks redemption for mistakes in love (“Freedom comes at a cost/It’s time to let go of what I lost”). It starts as a ballad before cranking up the volume and guitars, then reflecting back to a slow groove ending the song and album.
Some of the slick production, that drowned the last album for many, remains. Yet Daylight goes a long way to reassuring the roots/jam based audience Potter initially cultivated, that her time trying to be the next Taylor Swift is over. It’s a refreshing reminder of her vocal and compositional strengths. And even if Daylight isn’t as raw and rootsy as many would like, it’s an encouraging return to form.