REVIEW: Lake Street Dive Makes Impressive Run on ‘Good Together’

Videos by American Songwriter

LAKE STREET DIVE
GOOD TOGETHER
(Fantasy)
♫♫♫♫

RATING CHART:
1 note – Pass
1.5 notes – Mediocre
2 notes – Average
2.5 notes – Above Average
3 notes – Good
3.5 notes Great
4 notes – Excellent
4.5 notes – Exceptional
5 notes – Classic

It’s been a long while since Lake Street Dive worked a venue as rundown as the one their name evokes. The quintet, now 20 years old, has grown exponentially during that time, ultimately playing gigs as large as this year’s Madison Square Garden date. 

It’s an impressive run, especially since their music—which touches on rock, soul, funk, Latin, and especially jazz—avoids popular genres like hip-hop and popular recording trends like programmed drums.

Although the opening title track of this, the band’s eighth release, celebrates a couple’s budding romance, it also hints at the communal process from which these songs came. The collaborative spirit the group favors seems to trickle down to the often joyous musical results.  

Returning producer Mike Elizondo (Sheryl Crow, Gary Clark Jr.) takes a spirited, yet organic approach that never devolves into excessive slickness. There are still plenty of party bangers, though, kicking off with a batch of danceable tracks that instantly connect. Horns make intermittent appearances, adding energy to the reggae rhythms bubbling under lyrics like those about obsession with self-support on “Help Is on the Way.” The congas boiling beneath the self-descriptive “Party on the Roof” are enhanced by a trumpet solo that injects a jazzier touch. And the sinewy “Get Around” feels inspired by Chaka Khan and Rufus’ funky ‘70s prime.   

But as melodic and catchy as these songs are, it’s impossible to imagine Lake Street Dive’s MSG-level popularity without frontwoman Rachael Price. Her husky, distinctive vocals and restrained delivery are spotlighted throughout, propelling good material to the next level. She shines on the touching, love-dissipated ballad “Twenty-Five,” supported only by solo piano. The album closes with the epic “Set Sail (Prometheus & Eros),” a poignant duet between Price and keys player Akie Bermiss that emits passion as two voices combine in a surreal tale about alien love.  

Good Together concludes after a concise 37 minutes, proving that skillfully written pop, played by a collective with serious chops honed over decades, can be both contemporary and timeless. 

Photo by: Shervin Lainez

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