TDP Review: Lake Street Dive’s ‘Bad Self Portraits’

For fans of Alabama Shakes, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Joy Kills Sorrow

6867620_origLake Street Dive – a rootsy, jazzy, indie quartet – is a band whose star is most definitely on the rise. Fronted by the powerful vocals of Rachael Price, the group has buoyed past ‘buzz band’ and moved on to becoming one of Amazon’s bestsellers. Their self-titled 2010 release, followed by a 2011 live album, recorded in Cambridge’s own Lizard Lounge, certainly raised some interest. However, it was their rendition of the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” which they released on YouTube in 2012 to promote their covers EP Fun Machine, that got over 1.5 million hits and started the band’s ascension. The song showcases their early jazzy sound, highlighting the talent of upright bassist Bridget Kearney, Mike Olson’s trumpet skills, and the soft but driving percussion of Mike Calabrese. The beautiful harmonizing and clear charisma evident in this video prompted some serious attention.

The new album, Bad Self Portraits, which was released in February, certainly has them making the rounds. Recently you’ve been able to catch them on The Colbert Report, Letterman, and even in Carnegie Hall. They were a hit at T-Bone Burnett’s Inside Llewyn Davis tribute concert, and are rapidly increasing their fan base. Their sound, which definitely looks to some of the softness in music of the past, also embraces a very contemporary rawness. The mix works. Price’s surging vocals, that are a little bit Bonnie Raitt rasp and a little bit Sarah Vaughan smooth, capture straight heartbreak, aching desire, and personal progression. These topics are tried and true, but their coverage of the subject matter is fresh. And although the vocals will stop you in your tracks, Price does not overshadow the explosion of talent present in her band-mates. This band is unified, energized, and powerful. Bad Self Portraits is certainly a testament to that.

From the doo-wop sound of “Stop Your Crying, ” and the sweeping vocals in “Rental Love” to the more frenetic, rocking sound of “Rabid Animal,” Bad Self Portraits is a diverse album that will certainly get you moving. The band’s first wholly original release, Bad Self Portraits is a strong addition to their growing catalogue – dynamic, commanding, and memorable. Lake Street Dive may have started as a country side –project of some New England Conservatory students, but it has developed into something so much bigger and so much better. Listen. You’ll dig it, Devils.



Lake Street Dive is playing a sold-out show at Royale Boston this weekend, but you’ll be able to catch them when they come back around this summer.

Bad Self Portraits – Overall Rating 4/5



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