Grace Potter Finds 'Release' After Tough Times With 'Daylight' Album

Pamela Neal
Grace Potter

"Release" wasn't the very first song Grace Potter wrote for her upcoming album Daylight. But she says the intimate, prayerful voice-and-piano track, premiering exclusively below, is "the song that helped me transition into making this record."

Daylight -- out Oct. 25 and the follow-up to 2015's Midnight -- comes after and reflects on a turbulent few years in Potter's life. She divorced, went through the breakup of her band, the Nocturnals, got married again (to Midnight and Daylight producer Eric Valentine) and had a baby son (now 20 months old). There was a point in all that when she left music entirely and predicted she wouldn't record again. "I was just kind of crispy after experiencing the dramatic and occasionally traumatic changes that had happened in my life," Potter explains. "I was just feeling like music was a destructive force in my life -- 'This is what happens when I make music, so I'm not gonna make music.' I was angry and sad and people got hurt, and that sucks."

As Potter regained her equilibrium and returned to music, the songs -- starting with Daylight's confessional opener "Love is Love" -- were deeply and at times darkly felt. "Release," one of the next two songs Potter wrote for the album, came to her while bathing in her previous house in Laurel Canyon, just as she and Valentine were preparing for a move to Topanga Canyon. "I just laid there in the bath and was just chanting," Potter recalls. "At a certain point I figured, 'This is kind of cool. I might use this mantra later,' so I just recorded it in a little piece, and it ended up being the chorus that you hear on ('Daylight')." The chant -- with its refrain of "I release you" -- sat in her telephone voice memo file for awhile but was rescued when Valentine heard it and told Potter, "That's crazy good. You can't sleep on that. You should totally finish that idea" (she did with co-writer Mike Busbee, who collaborated on several other Daylight tracks). 

"Daylight is an incredibly unfiltered musical expression of who I want to be," Potter says of the 11-song set, which features Nocturnals member Benny Yurco on guitar (she was previously married to drummer Matt Burr) as well as Benmont Tench from Tom Petty's Heartbreakers on keyboards and Lucius on backing vocals. "It's a journal. It's really personal. It's a very powerful feeling to become a mother, to fall in love and also to watch and experience love falling apart and say goodbye to an entire era of your life. There were all kinds of crazy, crazy trials and tribulations -- some of which I'm not legally allowed to talk about. There's a lot that went on that made me feel things incredibly deeply. It was really important for me to be at ease with myself in life, first, and then in music after that. That's why it took so long."

Potter also feels Daylight's range -- from the rocking "Love is Love" to the country flavor of "Everyday Love" and the Patsy Cline-esque "Repossession" -- marks yet another new beginning for her. "It really feels like a debut album," she concurs. "I just found that at a certain point I was bursting to sing and bursting to create. I've always tried to break free of expectations; That's why I like jumping around and making records that are different, one to another. Midnight was a real emancipation for me from the constraints I had been feeling with my band, and Daylight is also a reflection of where I'm at now."

Potter plans to let Daylight sink in with fans for a few months, but she'll return to the road during early 2020, starting Jan. 8 in Charleston, S.C. with dates booked into late March. That will mean returning to older material as well, including Midnight and her four Nocturnals albums, but Potter still feels they're relevant in her life now.

"I've found it very easy to play the older material because it's been in my artillery for so long," she explains. "Songs like 'Medicine' or 'Big White Gate' or 'Stop the Bus' or 'Apologies.' I have these songs that meant one thing to me, and now they're starting to ring through in a totally different way. It's like a new form of the same feeling. It just feels powerful to do these songs with more life under my belt."

Potter's 2020 tour itinerary so far includes:

January 08                    Charleston, SC @ Charleston Music Hall
January 09                    St. Petersburg, FL @ Jannus Live
January 10                    Lake Buena Vista, FL @ House of Blues
January 11                    Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution
January 12                    Key West, FL @ Sunset Green Lawn
January 15                    Jacksonville, FL @ Florida Theatre
January 16                    Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz
January 17                    Charlotte, NC @ The Fillmore
January 18                    Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle
January 19                    Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
January 22                    Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre
January 23                    McKees Rocks, PA @ Roxian Theatre
January 24                    Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore
January 25                    Washington, DC @ Anthem
January 28                    New Haven, CT @ College Street Music Hall
January 29                    Portland, ME @ State Theatre
January 30                    Albany, NY @ The Egg
January 31                    Boston, MA @ House of Blues
February 01                  New York, NY @ Beacon Theatre
February 04                  Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue Theatre
February 05                  Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection
February 06                  Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theater
February 07                  Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
February 08                  St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre
February 09                  Des Moines, IA @ Hoyt Sherman Place
February 12                  Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom
February 13                  Oklahoma City, OK @ The Jones Assembly
February 14                  Houston, TX @ House of Blues
February 15                  Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Live at Moody Theater
February 18                  Birmingham, AL @ Iron City
February 19                  Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium
February 20                  St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
March 12                      Vancouver, BC Canada @ Commodore Ballroom
March 13                      Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
March 14                      Seattle, WA @ Showbox
March 15                      Eugene, OR @ McDonald Theatre
March 18                      San Diego, CA @ Observatory North Park
March 19                      Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
March 20                      Stateline, NV @ MontBleu Resort Showroom
March 21                      Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
March 24                      Missoula, MT @ The Wilma
March 25                      Salt Lake City, UT @ The Depot
March 26                      Aspen, CO @ Belly Up
March 27                      Aspen, CO @ Belly Up
March 28                      Denver, CO @ Mission Ballroom

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