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Coffee Mate: “Clear a Space” by Lake Street Dive

This week, tickets went on sale for Jack Johnson’s summer tour, which will feature the soulful, infectious Lake Street Dive as an opening act through a string of tours across New England.

With this full-fledged spill into the mainstream, Lake Street Dive caps off a week that’s seen them play Charlie Rose and a live set at the Billboard Studios; it caps off a year that’s featured the release of Side Pony, their first album on Nonesuch Records, and seemingly countless appearances the late night circuit; it caps off a nearly-half-decade stretch where the band’s steadily stomped their way from relative unknowns to viral video break-outs to an ever-growing tour de force, smoothly grinding from the country’s indie scenes and dive bars to its largest, open-air theaters.

It’s a logical course for Lake Street Dive, whose sound has always been destined for bigger rooms, larger crowds, and more ears, even from their earliest days.

“Clear a Space” comes from those earliest days, the sole-original from Fun Machine, a six-song, 2012 LP with five covers running alongside “Clear.”

“Clear a Space” has all the trappings of what makes Lake Street Dive great, as it leads with the carefree groove of Bridget Kearney’s stand-up bass, and throughout the track, the strength of Kearney’s bassline allows the song to exist solely on drums, trumpet, vocals, and her four strings. When Rachel Price arrives for the song’s first verse, she does so with her signature power and grace, playing with the jazzy melody, and soulfully dripping and bending each string of notes. Her band swings effortlessly behind her, as Mike Calabrese takes charge on the drums, providing a rhythm to ride on, and Mike “McDuck” Olson puts down his guitar to take up the trumpet, giving the melody another layer on the high-end brass. Their skills come fully together, and despite coming from the infancy of their catalog, it’s proof that Lake Street’s sound was destined for the highest of heights.

So this this weekend, when a friend texted me from a Lake Street show in Portland, Maine, gushing, and saying that the only comparable vocal performance she’d ever heard was Adele, I wasn’t unsurprised.

You shouldn’t be either, when the same type of texts pings your phone after a Jack Johnson concert this summer.


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