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Grace Potter surprises as she goes it alone

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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After taking a year and a half off after a dozen years of marathon touring with her band, the Nocturnals, Grace Potter decided that it was time to show another musical side of herself.

But she knows the more lush and melodic pop and soul blend of "Midnight," her new solo album, may be a shock to the system for those who have been following her to this point.

"I've never wanted to choose a single style of music to play because I love all music. I really, truly do," the Vermont native says by phone from North Carolina. "So it all started there. I love all kinds of music and I never wanted to choose one, but I also have this amazing legacy of the band that I've built that really does focus on one particular style of music that I love so much, that I grew up with, that's really rooted in that nostalgic, classic rock from the late 60s/early 70s."

Potter, in fact, started out writing songs for what she figured would be the next Nocturnals album, following 2012's "The Lion the Beast the Beat." Before long however, Potter "realized my muse was taking me in a different direction, one that touched more on the sounds of my childhood that I was more likely to hear on the radio and kids my age would've been dancing to in Gymboree class." That influence yielded more of a contemporary pop album than any of Potter's previous work -- and she makes no apology for it.

"Y'know, if someone wants to sit down in the living room or at a cocktail party and complain about pop music and how bad things are the radio, that's a completely fine position to take," acknowledges Potter, 32, who married Nocturnals drummer Matt Burr during 2013. "But it's a passive position, and I'm not a passive human being. I choose to take action, so I did that with ('Midnight'). I wanted to join the conversation and make music that I felt could be played on the radio that would be what I felt was 'good' music.

"So that's what I did on this record."

The other Nocturnals, i turned out, didn't feel the same "urgency" in that direction, so Potter made "Midnight" primarily with producer and co-writer Eric Valentine, whose credits include Smash Mouth, Good Charlotte, Third Eye Blind and more. She is, however, still touring with the Nocturnals, though she's expanded and augmented the band with four additional members to suit the new material, and Potter's not sure if this is a temporary creative excursion or the harbinger of more left turns to come.

"Y'know, I knew this record was going to get mixed reactions and news of me going solo would be confusing for my fans," Potter says. "But they're so loyal and have been incredibly supportive. The future is unknown, but this is definitely part of my life and I'm going to take this with me whether I get back together with the Nocturnals or do a country album or making another solo album or a (expletive) gangsta rap record.

"Whatever I do next is going to be informed by this major transition in my personal life and my musical life. It's been amazing and really fulfilling. I can't wait to see what happens next -- but I'm usually the last to know!"

Grace Potter and Rayland Baxter

Thursday, October 8. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St.

Tickets are $27.50-$55 in advance, $35-$55 at the door.

Call 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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