For a state so far from Memphis, New Orleans and Chicago, Vermont has more than its share of talented blues, jazz, soul and funk performers. Twentysomething beauty Grace Potter is one in a long line of Green Mountain prodigies spinning out some pretty sweet sounds.
Following 2002's Red Shoe Rebel, her second CD, Original Soul, is just under 50 minutes. On it, Potter cycles through the above styles with impressive results
Much has been written about Potter’s voice, but no adjective can really define just how good it is. From a breathy whisper to a bluesy groan, she beats most singer-songwriters by leaps and bounds. It's a radio voice if I've ever heard one -- and Potter should be on the airwaves.
Potter is joined by local legends Chuck Eller on Hammond B-3 organ and vocalists Tammy Fletcher, Sandra Wright and Jen Crowell. Providing expert backing are Potter's usual band mates: drummer Matthew Burr, bassist Courtright Beard and guitarist Scott Tournet.
"At Your Request" starts things off with subtle cymbal washes and a slinking bass line. Potter’s vocals are the perfect mix of shy-gal innocence and sexually charged roar."Go Down Low" flows from soft blues to rousing gospel, with some fine guitar work from Tournet. Potter sings strong and bold, sounding at times like Bonnie Raitt or even Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes.
Further along, she wails through the liquored soul of "No Good, Mean Old, Lowdown Lover Man," trading verses with the golden-throated Fletcher.
Original Soul is a triumph, a recording that plays to Potter's strengths while broadening the scope of her songwriting and performance. It's one of the finest Vermont releases of the year. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals play Halvorson's this Friday.