“I found the heart of a lion, in the belly of the beast,” Grace Potter sings on the title track of her new album with The Nocturnals, The Lion The Beast The Beat. Potter, who had to halt the initial recordings to find herself in the form of a “fantasy road trip,” didn’t just find a beating heart — she found the essence of her sound: an exploding showcase of rock, pop, and passion that builds in each song, most importantly and amazingly in the title track, which is the best rock song I have heard in 2012.
And I’ll say it right now: “Stars,” a ballad on par with past material such as “Apologies” and “Ragged Company,” should be an immediate radio hit. (But please, bury the “bonus” version with Kenny Chesney, which is ridiculously awful, and is a disservice to the song.)
You’re bound to read about Potter’s much publicized collaboration with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach on this record, and their work together is fine, especially on the first single, “Never Go Back.” But you’re better off rocking to “Turntable,” zoning out to “Timekeeper,” or relishing in the closing “The Divide,” which is mysterious and baiting, and confirms that Grace Potter is who we thought she was: a super gypsy and rock star who is here to stay.