All country doesn’t suck. Just most of it. Because most major label C and W is watered down rock—lame anthems and songs with expected twists and puns that were barely funny when Henny Youngman uttered them, years ago. But Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are an exception. The band eschews Americana and stays true to true country—without being corny—occasionally marching close (but never quite embracing) rock and roll.

The band is on a major label, but I’m making an exception to my general no-review policy because they’ve been around for a long while and haven’t really caught fire. And I can’t figure out why. Check out the bluesy greatness of “Stop the Bus” and tell me it isn’t better than anything on the CMAs. “Ain’t No Time” is reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe,” only Grace has a much better voice (obviously), and it’s got more twang. “Mastermind” comes close to being a barnburner—I can only imagine how much better this song is when its performed before an eager audience. Then there’s “Mr. Columbus,” which is almost like an anthem but like most good Grace Potter tunes it balances warily between rock and country, fully embracing neither genre by adopting folky lyrics. All in all, another varied and textured
collection from this seasoned group that deserves more recognition than it gets.

Ah, Mary (Studio cut from the new album)

Another reason why I’m making an exception to my general no-RIAA artists ban is because Grace is great and generous with her live recordings. Check it:

From “This Is Somewhere”:

Stop the Bus


Here’s To the Meantime

Ain’t No Time.

Mr. Columbus


Cortez the Killer (Neil Young)

Skinny Woman (RL Burnside cover)

Come and Go Blues (Allman Brothers)

No Expectations (Rolling Stones)

Live With Me (Rolling Stones) with Peter Prince (of Moon Boot Lover) on guitar and vocals

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