Going all the way back to their first record 15 years ago, Boston’s Lake Street Dive have always been tough to categorize. The genre agnostic band has flirted with classic soul, R&B and indie pop over the course of their career, so it shouldn’t be surprising that their latest, Obviously, is just as confounding to those looking for easy, shorthand classification.
Spread over nearly a dozen tracks, the band leans more into classic funk and jazz this time around, while carrying over their other influences for one of their finest records yet. Lake Street Dive has always been self-assured in their instincts to experiment in the past, but it really seems to pay off in a big way on Obviously, where Rachael Price’s confident vocals give heft to songs like the beautifully slow tempo “Nobody’s Stopping You Now,” the bad ass “Hush Money,” and the almost anthemic “Being A Woman.”
Even on a song with questionable lyrics, like “Know That I Know” (“You’re Ferris Bueller and I’m Your Day Off”), the band’s joy and charm is infectious. There are a couple of tracks towards the end of the record that don’t hold up as well when compared to the bulk of the good-to-great songs that dominate Obviously. The record ends on the near-a capella “Sarah,” with Price’s vocals complemented perfectly by the sweet harmonies backing her up, a song that flawlessly highlights exactly how talented the group is.
The band turned to Grammy Award-winning producer/songwriter Mike Elizondo – a Dr. Dre protégé – to produce this one. It seems like an odd choice at first, but his genre-blurring resume that includes working with everyone from Eminem and 50 Cent to Fiona Apple and Carrie Underwood actually complements Lake Street Dive’s eclectic tastes nicely. Despite a couple of weaker tracks, Obviously still manages to be a deeply satisfying record and a reminder that even though we’re living in a music streaming world, where listeners bounce from band to band, there are still groups out there making album-centric music that deserves to be listened to from start to finish.
Photo credit: Shervin Lainez