Review: Lake Street Dive soar on new album 'Obviously'

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MARK KENNEDY
·2 min read
This cover image released by Nonesuch Records shows "Obviously" by Lake Street Dive. (Nonesuch Records via AP)
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Lake Street Dive, “Obviously” (Nonesuch Records)

Lake Street Dive's seventh studio album takes its name from the first word in the first song — “Obviously.” Here's another thing that's obvious: You need to make this band part of your life.

Call them what you like — alt-country, indie-pop, pop-folk — the hard-to-classify Lake Street Dive offer top-notch songwriting with progressive lyrics and one of the most underrated vocalist in music today.

Originally formed in 2004 by students attending the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, the band consists of singer Rachael Price, Mike “McDuck” Olson on trumpet and guitar, Bridget Kearney on upright bass and Mike Calabrese on drums. Newest member, keyboardist Akie Bermiss, harmonizes beautifully with Price on “Same Old News,” and wrote the beautiful and wistful “Anymore.”

The 11-track “Obviously” follows “Free Yourself Up” from 2018, which featured one of the band’s hits, “Good Kisser.” This time, “Feels Like the Last Time” has a rootsy vibe and “Sarah” is a cappella.

“Nobody’s Stopping You Now” was penned by Price as a letter of encouragement to her teenage self and “Know That I Know” is a funky and funny trumpet-led ode to lovers (“You're Captain Kirk to my Spock/I'm Dee Dee Ramone and you're punk rock.”)

The band's progressive bent is evident on the feminist “Being a Woman” — “If I complain they'll blame my feelings/But look at the view from my glass ceiling” — “Hush Money,” which assails crooked politics, and “Making Do,” which tackles climate change with the lines, “What do I say to my baby girl?/Leaving her with a half a world?”

“Obviously” was produced by Mike Elizondo, who has worked with Dr. Dre, Eminem, Carrie Underwood and Fiona Apple. Lake Street Dive have never sounded better, full and clear with every instrument given a chance to shine in every song.

Superb musicians already, they can switch on a dime and go in another direction. Kearney even teases as much with the terrific first song “Hypotheticals,” singing: “Obviously, we're at the beginning of something/I don't expect you to know where it's gonna go.” Well, we'll ruin the surprise — it's gonna go great.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits