“Free Yourself Up”; A New Album with a New Hippie Sound

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Miles Bird

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Album Art for Lake Street Dive’s “Free Yourself Up”

Google Common License Album Art for Lake Street Dive’s “Free Yourself Up”

Upon first listen, Lake Street Dive’s sound is a musical culmination of multiple past styles of music pushed together into powerful musical sensation. The incredibly talented vocal talents of Rachael Price is backed up by a great band, using styles of funk, jazz, swing, soul, R&B, and classic rock. The songwriting showcases this unique sound in a fantastic way, that would not be unlike the songs found on a Jukebox. After first meeting success on a viral youtube video doing a cover of “I Want You Back”, the band has reached nightly television and produced multiple albums which were met with great success.

 

Released in May of 2018, Lake Street Dive’s newest album “Free Yourself Up” gives a more purified take on their stylized sound. This album took ideas from the past albums 2014’s “Bad Self Portraits” and 2016’s “Side Pony” but flushed them out into full songs. However this was not without sacrificing some of the pop elements, or rock components that helped make earlier releases much more popular.

 

In many of the 10 songs on the album, the band combines much slower elements that were first expressed in singles such as “Better Than” from the “Bad Self Portraits” album, but creates a version of this dramatic, melodic tone which fits the context of the band as a whole. In their newest album songs such as “I Can Change”, “Hang On”, and “Musta Been Something” play into this sound to a much fuller extent. These ballads are lyrically creative and express sentiments that only Rachael Price’s strong, blues-driven voice could.

 

There are some great standouts from the ballad style of this album. “Good Kisser”, “Dude” and “Baby Don’t Leave Me Alone With My Thoughts” do a fantastic job of returning to the style of previous albums, and providing a thick and energetic sound that the band does so well. The sheer passion lends to an upbeat musical phenomenon that would fit any excited get-together, combining soul and motown and blues and rock all together into these pieces. The songs are long enough that they lend to some of the bands musical improvisations and Price’s blues licks. These are the kind of songs that you hear and you ask someone next to you ‘ who ARE these guys’. And yet, these powerful songs are balanced with the slower, moodier ballads creating more of an emotional outlet than just an album.

 

One would easily be led to believe that this is essentially Rachael Price’s solo piece, but that would not give credit to the rest of the band at all. First, Price only wrote 1 of the songs on this album, where as majority of their songs are written by bass player Bridget Kearney or drummer Mike Calabrese. Second, that wouldn’t be fair to the immense individual talent the rest of the quintet has. As intense and emotional Price’s voice may be, it is the band taken as a whole that creates the unique musical experience that they strive for.

 

If there was one downfall that the album has, it is that it fails to showcase the talent of the individual performers. Comparing “I Can Change” from their new album to an older song “What I Am Doing Here” there is a huge difference in how Rachael Price’s powerful voice is displayed. In “Free Yourself Up” the songs are trying to fit to the band as a whole which ultimately ignores the fierce and raw talent that all the members have; Kearney’s masterful bass solos, McDuck’s fantastic trumpet solos, or Olson’s deliberate yet artful drum solos. Despite the band being incredibly talented, this new album fails to let people know.

 

Overall, as the band is trying to find its new place in the world, its fans will always enjoy their great sound and talent pool. Lake Street Dive’s musical work ethic and overflowing musical abilities will carry it far into the harsh musical world of tomorrow, as they find an outlet for creativity and musical genius.

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