Jo Potter – Tonight – Album Review
How am I this consistently behind the rest of the world these days? Back in 2017, when I first reviewed Jo Potter’s music on her album Saved, that record had already been out for NINE YEARS! And here I am doing it all over again…I’m here busy listening to her album Tonight, that was released back in good ol’ 2019. One of these days I’ll be among the living, current, and up to-date…just not today, as so it seems.
Anyhow. Great to have her back on our pages again…and I can confirm, she does actually have newer music than Tonight out there right now…she released a single called “All Year Long” in 2019 that wasn’t on this album, and a cut called “Better Together” last year as far as I can tell, in the world according to the internet. I don’t need to tell you fine people listening though…YOU all know this stuff already, of course – it’s me that’s atrociously behind schedule…I better wrap this intro up or I’ll be further behind!
On the bright side of things, behind last to know something’s out there isn’t always the worst situation. Think of it this way…while you’re all out there waiting for more Jo Potter music to come out, I’ve got myself a BRAND-NEW album right here on my playlist that, yes, came out about three years ago now, but if I haven’t heard it yet, then it’s ALL-NEW to me, ain’t it? Besides that…last I recall, any time we’re listening to Jo’s music makes for a great soundtrack to the day…so believe me, I may be late, but I ain’t complainin’ – and in this case, it’s literal! According to Jo herself, this album “is all about the emotional connectiveness we have on one particular night. Tonight, you could be going to a party with friends, while another person is having a hard time with a break up. All these things are happening on the same night with different people.” Listening to her get the energy flowing right off the drop with the stellar hooks and energy on her title-track as this record began to spin was AWESOME…a genuine reminder of how great Potter’s tunes can be, right off the bat. It’s not JUST the sound…it’s the whole vibe, the aura, the energy combined – you get it. “Tonight” is a very Pop/Rock style of song at the end of the day, but that’s my jam…Jo herself actually sounds a lot like Alanis Morissette trying something new…and I freakin’ DIG IT. I think it’s a really smart track to have front-loaded onto the album overall…”Tonight” has this whole like…carpe diem thing goin’ on…it’s a song that encourages us to live in the moment and give every second of it everything we’ve got…if anything, it has a message more needed now than it would have been back in 2019 when the record originally came out…the world needs a reminder of this positivity.
Yeah…I mean…heck, I’d seriously be interested in hearing a Potter take on a Morissette song – listening to “Over And Done” makes me curious about how much Alanis she was checking out herself back in 2019. In any event, that’s good company to be keepin’ if you ask me – and Jo’s added a significant degree of crossover sound to that whole vibe, with a slight rasp at the edge of her vocals when she reaches the most intense parts of “Over And Done,” which I dig too…it gives a song like this that hint of something like Sass Jordan underneath the surface. Overall though, I gotta admit – Jo’s come out with brilliant material here, a stunning level of justified confidence in it, and all-out professional execution. We all get to that point where we know our way around the studio as artists, or in whatever it is that we do, we find that sweet spot where everything just seems to come naturally to us – and LISTEN to Potter here on “Over And Done” will ya? This is the sound of a lady that OWNS the spotlight, stands proudly behind the words, music, and material, and confidently crushes it to the maximum results. The hooks are strong – but really, the whole SONG is…it’s not just a matter of having a great chorus, the writing, structure, and sound is all right on the money…this is the sound of Jo Potter thriving in the art of music. Lyrically, she’s tough as nails too…she’s not taking shit from anyone, and confident enough in herself to understand & know when to walk away from something that doesn’t work, and how to tell it like it is.
Quite often, in life in general but especially in music, I find I’m very much in the camp of ‘the simpler the better.’ Like…I don’t think there’s a whole lot to the core DNA of a tune like “Baby I Am Yours” – heck, I’m not even really all that convinced it isn’t anything we have haven’t heard in a variety of different ways over the course of time when it comes right down to it – but I’m also like…I mean…what does that matter? A love song is a love song is a love song…they’re all going to have a ton of similarities – and in general, I feel like the less complex we get with them, the better – it’s like a way of communicating the real sincerity of the scenario without any pretense or false feelings – make sense? A track like “Baby I Am Yours” is wonderfully pure and direct, melodic and beautiful…and that’s really all it needs to be. Y’all regular readers here know I’m all about doing what suits the song fundamentally, and I’d argue that Jo has given this song every ounce of everything it really needed…and as a result, it’s easily one of my favorites on the record. Don’t get it twisted & don’t get me wrong – I’ve got all the time for complex musicianship and Prog-this or that too…when the mood strikes me I suppose. A song like “Baby I Am Yours” is a cut that I’m gonna have time for, any day of the week and twice on Sundays. The execution is impeccable, flawless, and equally stunning – Jo sounds fantastic, into it, dreamy, but grounded & real too. Stellar melody & authentic heart in this tune lead Potter to a decisive victory for her, and for love; it’s a song that’s dedicated to her son, and actually features him singing with her in the backup vocals as well.
There’s a reason I remember Jo Potter after all these years have gone by…and every time I hear her music, she gives me even more reasons as to why I’ll never forget her. LISTEN to her performance on “For You (Seraphina’s Lullaby)” will ya? I do not know who Seraphina is, but believe me, that is one lucky person. This much I can tell ya – you feel the admiration, love, and respect in abundance here. I’ve been a genuine fan of Jo’s music and voice ever since I first heard her way back when, as I’ve already explained – but listening to the magic she makes on this particular song is on a whole other level if you ask me. As much as I try not to have expectations of anyone, you can’t really help it when you know what someone’s capable of…and hearing Jo exceed any expectations I could have had of her on “For You (Seraphina’s Lullaby)” was truly something else to experience…she goes from great to even greater here. Considering how much I already believed in her before, you have to understand how much I’m really saying with that comment…”For You (Seraphina’s Lullaby)” is mesmerizing, enchanting, captivating, and all-around GORGEOUS to the nth degree. Potter is absolutely breathtaking on this song, 100%, full-stop. She has such a remarkable understanding of what works for her music & melody-wise, that she’s done nothing else but crack the bat as hard as can possibly be done, even in the most delicate of settings like you’ll find her in on “For You (Seraphina’s Lullaby)” – and I kid you not folks, it’s like she’s completely superhuman. From the lead to the background of this song, Jo’s got the whole world in the palm of her hand as she sings…there’s not a thing she could have done to get any more beauty out of this moment. ***Post-publishing update for ya, it turns out Seraphina is Jo’s daughter; we stand by the ‘lucky person‘ comment – what a beautiful song to have written for her!
“For You (Seraphina’s Lullaby)” is SO INCREDIBLE, that, by comparison, “You’re Amazing” is just OKAY. LOL – I’m kidding Jo…it’s still a solid tune…I suppose what I’m saying is, ANY song would have had a hard time following “For You (Seraphina’s Lullaby)” and “You’re Amazing” does about as good a job as any cut could have. What I like more than anything about this track at the end of the day is the empowered spirit it has – the core sentiment of “You’re Amazing” is designed to be uplifting, and it achieves that feeling. More-so for anyone out there that’s been screwed over by some wack-ass dude I’m sure, but I think for anyone out there that just needs a little more pep in their strut, or a confidence boosting soundtrack for their day, “You’re Amazing” is the kind of song that’ll have you singing along loud & proud. I’m always going to advocate on behalf of melodies that are a little less upbeat or perhaps even more melancholy when it comes right down to it I guess…that’s what I naturally gravitate to personally – but I can certainly hear the strength in Potter as she sings this song, and the reasons she’s chosen to write it for YOU out there that could use the extra boost & reminder that “You’re Amazing.” And I’m all for it! I might always like “For You (Seraphina’s Lullaby)” a whole lot more, and I even like to think the majority of you will be with me in that assessment…but it don’t mean I don’t love & appreciate this too. It’s got the toughest spot in the entire lineup of this record to fill, and “You’re Amazing” does a solid job.
I’ll put it to ya this way…I might even like it better than “Goodbye” all said & done. MAYBE. I think time will ultimately tell for sure, but right now I’m leaning towards feeling that way. “Goodbye” has a bit more of a Bluesy vibe to it…a bit more Soul in the mix perhaps…these can be & are good things…I think the material here just might not be quite as bulletproof as the first five songs on the record truly are. And that’s OKAY! Heck, it’s actually kind of comforting to know Jo’s still among the human on this planet, ain’t it? The reality is…she’s actually only competing with herself at this point…a song like “Goodbye” would be an A-side on most records out there – but on hers, with everything we’ve heard to this point on Tonight…it’s probably fair to say this seems like it’s nearly a B-side by comparison. MAYBE. Like I said…the jury is still kind of out on this one for the moment…I suspect that “Goodbye” is going to have no problem finding a whole audience of people that love it every bit as much as the rest, and if that’s YOU, you’ll get nothing but a high-five from me. Potter’s remarkably consistent y’all – and it’s because of that, that ANY of these songs have a legitimate shot of being your favorite tune on Tonight. So if “Goodbye” is yours, like I said, you get a full salute of respect from me…it’s still a full quality tune. She’s part Alanis, part Sass, part Melissa Etheridge here…ultimately, that’s one heck of a combination.
“Waiting” was a bit of a mix for me…what’s good is good, and what’s great is beyond incredible…so really, that ain’t all that bad, am I right? For me, the reality of a song like “Waiting” somewhat proves the point I was making earlier on in this review when I was talking about simplicity, and how it can often lead to the most powerful moments & remarkable results. Here’s what I mean…have a listen to it, and I can promise ya, you’ll get exactly what I mean…there’s more involved in the writing of the verses and in the bridge as well – yet what’s the most undeniably magic moment of this particular song? It’s the chorus – and hands down in my opinion. It’s not like anything gets overly complex in any given moment of “Waiting” – but the chorus keeps it simple in all the right ways, relying mainly on the star of the show to deliver the goods, and boy does she ever! Jo’s got such a wonderful voice…believe me, it’s not like you’re not going to enjoy the entire song, you probably WILL…but I also feel like we’d all come out of listening to this song the same way, and have to recognize that the way she sings the chorus it truly special on “Waiting.” Absolutely nailed it if you ask me…and while many out there would ASSUME that’s always going to be the case when it comes to a song shifting from verse to chorus, I can assure ya that it’s not…sometimes our biggest moments fall flat, sometimes ambition gets the best of us – but sometimes, when you hit that sweet spot in a song just right, it can sound as inviting & enticing as this does. Considering the fact that Jo’s singing about “Waiting” for love to come around & realize that’s exactly what it is & that there’s a lot of heartbreaking emotion threaded into this tune as well, you gotta admire just how comforting it sounds overall. Bonus points for absolutely impeccable production too.
We’re probably all going to have our opinions on what the best dimension of Jo Potter’s sound is gonna be – but look at it this way folks, we’re spoiled for choice, and that’s a nice problem to have. “No Apology” makes more use of the Blues/Soul side of her Pop/Rock sound…all-in-all, she’s got just as much in common with something like The Black Crowes in this particular tune as any of the other comparisons that I’ve already cited along the way. Think of “No Apology” like the gentle cousin to “Hard To Handle” in a way…there’s a ton of rhythm and swagger in this cut, and I’d be the first to tell ya Potter’s workin’ it well, even if it might not be my own personal favorite cut of the bunch. Like I always tell ya on these pages of ours…we all like what we like, and love what we love. In moments like this, I fully appreciate the relentless professionalism she’s revealed throughout this whole lineup…and I’m still with her, know what I mean? There’s nothing about “No Apology” that would make me turn her down or turn it off, nothing that would even make me skip to the next track either – Jo’s dialed right into what she does & flashes us a Bonnie Raitt level of cool here, which is really never anything I’d ever dream of complaining about – that’s commendable in every conceivable way if you ask me…Raitt’s a legend & Jo’s on her way. There are amazing players in the band surrounding her…I don’t know who they are, or who plays what – all I can tell ya is that they have been as brilliant as they’ve been flawless throughout this entire album.
Push! Sometimes it is HARD to get that square peg through the round hole…but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Ultimately, that’s what “Everything” made me think of…it’s probably the song I’m the most on the fence about from this whole record. My main concerns is that it doesn’t really do too much different than what songs like “Goodbye” or “No Apology” have already provided us with in this set-list, and the natural fluidity here is traded for a bit of attempted cleverness in the flow of the melody. I’m not 100% convinced it works in Potter’s favor here…it’s a bit too syllable-for-syllable in the way she sings it at the start…which kind of makes me believe that “Everything” was still fairly new to the lineup at the time, or just not quite as rehearsed perhaps. Or maybe I’m just splitting hairs…that’s kind of what it feels like…maybe it’s on me. I like the way Jo punches into the chorus of this song – “I dare you to love me” comes out awesome, it’s definitely my favorite singular moment of this tune. I like the confidence she displays here…plus she sounds like she’s having some fun with this moment too…overall, that makes for an enticing combination at its best moments. For myself personally, that’s the chorus on this track too…that’s a highly memorable hook without a doubt, but bonus points to the rhythm section of this band once again, and the way that Potter sings her backup vocals as well. Though I gotta say – that main synth melody is pretty killer too…the music on this cut IS jammin’ & I dig it. Lots of positives to be found still…it’s a lil’ more rigid in the design of the verses, but the chorus loosens up completely spot-on.
As far as the originals on this record are concerned, Jo wraps it up at song ten with “Nothing” – though there are three additional acoustic recordings to follow it before Tonight is over. She’s ended the main set of ten in a really strong way with one of the album’s hardest hitting cuts on an emotional level…it’s honestly not the easiest track to listen to in a sense…the pain is that vivid and real here. If we’re talkin’ about melody, then “Nothing” is all aces…in fact, for songwriting all-around, I think this track is one of the best I’ve probably heard from her in many ways. Essentially, it’s a deep cut in more ways than one, you follow me? This song ultimately deals with the aftermath of a relationship…and from what you can gather from the words, that whole situation didn’t go too well at the end. I’m always fascinated by what happens afterwards when a relationship is over. Obviously, any of us on the outside of it would never know the full story or all the nuances that lead from the blissful beginnings of point-A, to the finality of point-B – but love…or the idea of love…the illusion of love…it’s always incredibly interesting to examine in the aftermath & how people choose to acknowledge it, or how they choose not to. I’ve always looked at it from the perspective that, we spent X-amount of time with someone…for that to dissolve or equate to “Nothing” by the end…I mean…fuck…that’s harsh y’all! I’m not saying it isn’t justified, because again, I wasn’t there…but presumably, there are two things we can assume fairly safely – one which Jo readily acknowledges when she sings “I know there were moments that were real” – and that’s generally what I’ve been getting at…if we’re spending a large amount of time with someone, presumably, it can’t be ALL bad, right? The second thing is a bigger, more encompassing psychological point…almost ironic in this particular situation…which is that, clearly what means “Nothing” did mean something – because I can tell ya for a certain fact, when something genuinely means nothing to someone, there is no song about it. Make sense? So “there’s no use in pretending” on a few levels…we kind of have to acknowledge that hurt & pain are real things, yes – but to say that none of the time spent meant anything at all…I dunno y’all…I guess I’d personally have a problem with admitting I was hanging out with a complete waste of time for so long, because that would be a reflection on my own ability to judge someone’s character. That being said…we’ve all been fooled by someone, and especially when it comes to love – and it’s not always easy to just figure it out before a large amount of time has passed…and I get that. I guess what I’m advocating for…what breaks my heart in listening to this tune…is the idea of wasted time, pure and simple. Whether it’s the lessons learned the hard way, or the few moments of joy you experienced with someone before it was all over – make that time you spend, each and every day, count for SOMETHING – because it’s truly all we’ve got. Anyhow. I could write an essay on this final track alone, clearly – I think “Nothing” is a wonderful experience…it’s thought-provoking, evocative, and extremely relatable and real…it sure gets your wheels turning just as much as it pulls at your heartstrings, lemme tell ya.
As far as the three acoustic cuts are concerned…you regular readers know what I’m gonna say here already…there’s always an insane amount of risk having any song appear twice on one record, because we’re essentially exposed to it twice as much, thereby inviting the possibility of its specialness burning out twice as quickly. Do I like the sound of “Baby I Am Yours (Acoustic)?” Of course I do! I’m no monster – who wouldn’t? But that’s just the thing I suppose…I’m looking to help preserve what I love so much about this song and the stunning melody & sweetness at its core. So yes…in general, especially with three additional acoustic cuts, I would have definitely gone with a short EP outside of the record, or the ol’ second disc like they used to do back in the day. I know, I know – it seems like the same thing doesn’t it? It’s not. Without much separation, a song really has to do something drastically different in order for it not to affect the wear & tear on that song overall between BOTH versions…and if I’m being real with ya, I’m not sure that “Baby I Am Yours (Acoustic)” quite does enough in that regard. A track like “Goodbye (Acoustic)” is probably better to point towards…I think we get a bit more out of this bonus version, and I felt like this song had the opportunity to shine a little more by exposing the roots of its melody in a simpler design. “Goodbye (Acoustic)” really enhances the sweetness and pain of the emotion in this song, and it genuinely feels more like a separate version than “Baby I Am Yours (Acoustic)” did in my opinion. Now…part of that is because “Baby I Am Yours” in both forms has an incredibly memorable hook in its melody & chorus…”Goodbye” has hooks too of course, but the kind that add strength to a lineup as opposed to that shiny, single-worthy stuff – you follow me? As far as “No Apology (Acoustic)” is concerned…that’s the song I cited Bonnie Raitt in comparison to the way Jo sings it, right? It is? Okay…cool…because I still feel that way, 100%. Stylistically, I think it’s a strong cut in both forms – but I gotta say…I think the all-piano version at the end MIGHT be the one I’m leaning towards. It’s hard to say…I’m not sure I can declare one version as any better than the other, because they both give you something great to listen to…but I do really like how we get to hear just how Potter’s sensational vocals are really what make this song work at the core of it all, and the clarity of the acoustic version at the end helps us realize that even more. Jo’s one heck of a singer, songwriter, and artist – and if anything else aside from a great lineup of songs to listen to, Tonight confirms her remarkable talents once more for us all. Hopefully she’s working on that next record already at this point in time – and hopefully, when it gets released I’ll be on the ball, and among the first to listen to it like I wanna be.
Find out more about Jo Potter at her official website at: https://jopotterrocks.com
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