Call for Music Critics and Essayists: If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by our quality readership.
Call for Music Critics and Essayists: If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by our quality readership.
APPLY HERE APPLY HERE
APPLY HERE APPLY HERE
Lake Street Dive
Photo: Shervin Lainez / Courtesy of Sacks & Co.

Lake Street Dive High 5: Rachael Price, Bridget Kearney Bring “Letter” to Life for New Album

Lead singer Rachael Price and bassist Bridget Kearney reflect on their deeply personal and emotional journey for “Nobody’s Stopping You Now” while helping Lake Street Dive continue to thrive with ‘Obviously’.

Obviously
Lake Street Dive
Nonesuch Records
12 March 2021

Group Effort

Now that they have joined forces with Elizondo and Bermiss, what else is Lake Street Dive doing to stay relevant?

“That’s a great question, and I don’t know,” Price confesses with a laugh before asking, “Have we stayed relevant?”

Seeing as many other acts perform live as possible (when pandemic restrictions finally ease) will be one way, she contends, along with checking out “what people are writing, and keeping up with all our friends and their projects and supporting their music.”

During the week following this interview, Lake Street Dive got together in the same room for the first time since leaving the recording studio to fly home in the first week of March 2020. They performed together at Bunker Studios in Brooklyn for a couple of livestream events (World Cafe, WFUV Marquee Members) and made appearances that will air on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (March 11) and CBS This Morning: Saturday (March 13).

Photo: Michael Bialas

Belonging to a group that has spent much of their lives on the road since forming as a quartet and playing favorite bars like Toad in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Price values their healthy and enduring relationship, and thinks she knows what makes them click. 

“You can attribute a good amount of it to the luck of our complementary personalities, which we could not have foreseen that we would’ve gotten along so well,” she declares. “And there’s a lot of really functional ways why our personalities all fit together. We’re really well-balanced. Half of us are extroverts (citing herself and Kearney), half of us are introverts (Olson, now living in Charleston, South Carolina; and Calabrese, a Boston resident). And Akie (a Brooklyn native), I would say he is an introvert, but he has like an extroverted energy to him.”

Their tight group dynamic won’t prevent Price from pursuing other side projects, though. When time permits, there are opportunities aplenty: collaborating to make Rachael & Vilray; singing lead vocals on “Greasy Heart”, “Law Man” and “Eskimo Blue Day” with Hot Tuna as part of Jefferson Airplane’s 50th anniversary tribute; working with musician-composer Jon Batiste (a recent Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice winner) on several occasions; and performing with her husband on his livestreams, recordings and music videos.

“I love them. I love when I get asked to do things like that, one-off things,” confirms Price, who also is trying to play more guitar these days. “I loved doing the show Live From Here. I loved singing with Hot Tuna so much. … That was a wild ride. With Vilray, that’s a kind of return to what I grew up singing in a style that I really missed exploring and singing.”

Price is also pleased to point out the various styles of songs she was given to sing on Live From Here ranging from jazz standard “All of Me” to Tom Waits’ “Take It With Me” to Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home”.

“I have realized that my experience with Lake Street Dive is kind of what’s helped me arrive at this point where I know how, I feel comfortable approaching all of those different vibes,” she maintains.

Epilogue of a Song

“Blown away” and “shocked” by Kearney’s enthusiastic acceptance to work on “Nobody’s Stopping You Now”, Price in turn was thrilled with the end product when her cowriter completed the song more than a year after its start, saying, “She really brought it to life.”

On August 4, 2019, before Lake Street Dive’s sold-out show at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre up the canyon in Bellvue, Colorado, several miles northwest of Fort Collins, Kearney heard the song with its completed set of lyrics for the first time while sitting by the Poudre River.

I had a few hours free in the afternoon and walked down to the river with my laptop to get away from the sounds of the stage getting set up so I could work on the song,” Kearney elaborates in her email reply. “I finalized a draft of the lyrics there and recorded a demo version into my computer mic and listened back to it. …

“That first experience of listening to the big picture of ‘Nobody’s Stopping You Now’ (even a very lo-fi demo version of it!) moved me to tears and that was when I knew we had written something that was honest and real and powerful. I think I was simultaneously crying out of sadness that young women should have to face these obstacles growing up AT ALL and also out of joy in knowing that the young woman the song is addressed to (Rachael Price) was able to overcome those obstacles and become the incredible, thoughtful, unique and empowered individual that she is today! It made me hopeful that any young woman or young person can do the same and that perhaps this song might be able to help someone along the way.”

Elsewhere at that moment, Price believes she was listening to what became the album’s opening cut — Kearney’s “Hypotheticals” — and had a feeling that was more instinctive than emotive, telling herself, “This is a hit.” 

The same could be said of “Nobody’s Stopping You Now” for Price, whose studio session trying to deliver an affecting version “was not tough at all. It was beautiful. … I was so psyched at that point.” A six-member string section and Elizondo’s request for perfection that required quite a few extra takes on the piano only added to the song’s polished presentation.

No wonder the first two numbers they played — flawlessly — during their February 25 livestream for the WFUV audience were “Hypotheticals” and “Nobody’s Stopping You Now.”

Sharing what appears to be such a kindred-spirited friendship with Kearney at events I’ve witnessed several times, including at Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in 2014 and 2017, it’s apparent that the camaraderie displayed by all the band members on stage is the result of innate qualities “we couldn’t have foreseen” years ago, according to Price.

“We have always been very dedicated to it being an equal split,” she adds. “Everybody’s contributions to the band being seen in an equal way, and I think that that has been our guiding light and force. … If one person writes six songs on the new album … it just is what it is, you know. Everybody’s contributing equally in their way with what they can. And we all need each other. It works best when we all work together.”

So with a firm “No,” Price dismisses the possibility of becoming a solo artist again, asserting, “I don’t miss it. I’m much happier in a band.”

In her final comments about “Nobody’s Stopping You Now” for this article, Kearney also nicely sums up the current condition of the Dive Five:“I don’t know exactly why Rachael would have been shocked by our positive reaction to this song, but I very much relate to the feeling and appreciate having four other people in this band with great taste that I can sound ideas off of to give me some real perspective!”

Who doesn’t like the sound of that? The answer can be found by listening to Lake Street Dive’s latest sumptuous feast for the senses — Obviously.

PopMatters