Bad Self Portraits
Signature Sounds Recording Company
In a year of so many great albums I’m returning now to Bad Self Portraits – an album that was released in February, one I heard earlier in the year but lost in the deluge. It’s a sharp set of songs, and the real arrival of a band that’s knocked out half a dozen recordings in its decade-long life so far. Rachael Price’s voice sometimes recalls Karen Dalton, the material wouldn’t sound out of place being performed by Bonnie Raitt (there are shades of her voice in what Price offers too) and the musical backing seems to take – happily, liberally – from blues and jazz, the from bar-room balladry end of the country spectrum – a song like Better Than a wonderful sum of so many clever separate vestiges: the late night waft of trumpet, a warm, sympathetic bass-line, a glorious vocal performance.
In fact, if The Delines offer the 1am tearful resolutions then Lake Street Diive is all about celebrating the life anew.
A bit of simple blues riffing (You Go Down Smooth) one minute, a playful, sinewy groove the next (Use Me Up) – it can be hard to place this music but for the fact that each song features empathic playing, the writing is beautifully realised (Just Ask) and the revivalist aspect of this moly hawk sound has been crafted to create a unique sound – one that is like the rustic/rural-charm version of The New Pornographers’ power-pop.
Great news to know they’re on the bill for next year’s WOMAD – this material should sound gorgeous live, you get the feeling that watching these songs live, hearing them from the stage will feel like a masterclass playing-wise, yet there’s a huge depth within the sound. It won’t just seem like great players coasting.