Lake Street Dive "Bad Self-Portraits"

Since forming at The New England Conservatory of Music, Lake Street Dive has displayed so many influences in their music that they’ve made it nearly impossible to categorize the band’s sound. Certainly jazz is evident in their music, but so is blues, soul, and pop, and the band’s original intent was to play country. Over the years the quartet has refined their sound, creating a rich amalgamation of these genres.

Lake Street Dive, named after an area in Minneapolis, gained attention for their acoustic cover of the Jacksons’ song “I Want You Back. The video of them singing the song on a street corner went viral on You Tube, leading to a stint on The Colbert Report and David Letterman’s Show. Signed to Signature Sounds Record, Bad Self Portraits is the first album that features lead singer Rachael Price. At first listen it might be tempting to think of her as the core of the band, but that would be a mistake. Although powerful vocals anchor every song her three cohorts write the songs, create dynamic backing vocals, and are amazingly versatile musicians. Bassist Bridget Kearney, drummer Mike Calabrese, and guitarist/horns Mike Olson each contribute songs. Sam Kassirer, Josh Ritter’s long-time collaborator, adds keyboards and produces the recording.

Bad Self Portraits title track is a soulful break-up ballad that puts you in mind of Tedeschi Trucks band. “Stop Your Crying” features a more pop rock work-up, and by the third track, LSD has slowed the pace for the ballad “Better Than” a song that sounds like something Bonnie Raitt might have sung in the 1970s. The band continues to keep you on your tracks as they roll through tracks that sneak in influences that pick through their incredible range of genres. Rachel Price possesses a voice that can be as raw as Britney Howard, as smooth as Bonnie Raitt, and as slinky as Amy Winehouse, and yet her sound is distinctive and original. The band plays as a tight unit. If you’ve seen the You Tube video you know this is a band that doesn’t need to add much production.  Kassirer keeps the sound pure and unadulterated. What you hear on the record is what you’ll get in live performance, s a delightfully fresh, energetic, and eclectic musical experience.

Rosemary Welsch