On their first three albums together, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals impressively balanced influences from four decades ago with a bluesy Rock ethic as fresh as an indie blog posting.
On The Lion The Beast The Beat, the quintet amazingly expand their genre parameters without losing the blistering essence of its Blues/Soul/Rock core. The album’s title track serves as a sonic manifesto; Potter intones a Sinead O’Connor-ish recitation over the Nocturnals’ drum-laden tribal overture, until 90 seconds in, when the song explodes into torrents of ’60s/’70s Blues Rock, all Joplin passion, Big Brother Soul and Fleetwood Mac precision.
“Parachute Heart” jangles and sighs like Bruce Springsteen and Jakob Dylan collaborating on a George Harrison tribute, while “Timekeeper” careens between soulful simmer and swaggering boil, stitched together with Potter’s brilliant Motown/Burt Bacharach piano stylings. “Never Go Back” and “Loneliest Soul,” co-written with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, are envelope-pushing gems, the former shivering with dancey New Wave Beat Pop vibes and the latter buzzing like a ’60s middle Eastern spy movie theme.
The album closes with the one-two punch of “One Heart Missing” and “The Divide,” respectively approximating the anthemic bombast of U2 balladry, and menacingly reimagining “Kashmir” as melodic Pop.
The Lion The Beast The Beat represents Potter and the Nocturnals’ incredible consistency, their mastery of a virtual laundry list of musical forms and their astonishing evolutionary bravado, all of which they translate fearlessly in the live setting. (Note: This concert begins at 4:30 p.m.)
GRACE POTTER & THE NOCTURNALS perform Sunday, July 1 at Paul Brown Stadium with Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Jake Owen. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.