An empowerment anthem can be a beautiful thing, a dramatic transcending of suffering’s isolating power. But what’s glorious about Sarah Potenza’s blistering, riff-propelled personal anthem “Monster” is that it doesn’t seek to transcend the unpleasantness of her reality — the fact that she’s been told countless times in countless ways that the body she inhabits is socially unacceptable. Instead, we hear a woman’s fierce determination to stay present, to stare down those who would shame her, to revel in her corporeality.
The song, the title track of Potenza’s new album, makes a strong statement on its own, but a new music video amplifies it tenfold. The brassy, Italian-American roots-rocker gathered a bewitching, bubbly group of every-sized women, rented a sprawling house in her bohemian East Nashville enclave and staged a fabulous pool party. There’s even a pre-teen Potenza doppelgänger, who dons the blocky, white glasses that became the singer’s trademark when she competed on the show The Voice and thrills at being welcomed into this circle of strong, sensual women.
Potenza has never been a reserved performer. She cut her teeth impersonating Janis Joplin and tearing through covers-stocked sets in Chicago blues clubs before giving the reality show, and its glam squads and ginned-up drama, a go. But she really stands out in the Americana scene, where she dons splashy stage costumes and, with the help of her guitarist-husband Ian Crossman, leads a revolving lineup of veteran sidemen through a repertoire that lands somewhere between earthy truth-telling and high camp. – NPR Review