“It’s a special kind of magic when two voices meet and immediately sound like they’ve never been apart. The voices of acoustic duo Rachael & Vilray are magical enough on their own, but when they blend in song the results are utterly sublime.” —Chronogram
Nonesuch Records releases Rachael & Vilray—the debut album by Lake Street Dive singer-songwriter Rachael Price and composer, singer, and guitarist Vilray —October 4, 2019. The twelve-song set features ten originals by Vilray, along with two covers from the era that inspired him: Cuban composer Pedro Junco Jr.’s 1943 “Nosotros” and Milton Drake/Louis Atler’s “I Love the Way You’re Breaking My Heart,” first popularized by Peggy Lee. A new video for the album track “Do Friends Fall in Love?” debuted today. Rachael & Vilray tour the US this fall, with stops in Chicago, Seattle, and Brooklyn. Rachael & Vilray is available at iTunes and the Nonesuch Store. The album also is streaming at Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and other digital service providers.
The duo recently performed on WNYC’s All of It with Alison Stewart, and they will join WFUV Music Director Rita Houston for a special invitation-only performance and interview at Manhattan’s McKittrick Hotel on October 23, which will be recorded for later broadcast. Rachael & Vilray also will be guests on public radio’s Live from Here with Chris Thile on October 26.
Rachael & Vilray, who began performing together in 2015, recorded the album with Lake Street Dive pianist Akie Bermiss, a rhythm section, and a small complement of horns, plus a guest performance from pianist Jon Batiste on “Go On Shining.” Dan Knobler, who had worked with Lake Street Dive on the Free Yourself Up album, produced. A video about the making of the album may be seen here.
The duo first met in 2003 as students at the New England Conservatory of Music. Vilray formed a couple of bands with Price’s soon-to-be bandmates in Lake Street Dive, Mike Calabrese and Mike “McDuck” Olson. Price recalls he had a nimble mind and quick wit when it came to lyrics. But, she says, “I didn’t know that Vilray and I shared a love of this particular time period of jazz. It was all I liked to listen to before I got there and everyone at school was listening to more avant-garde, free stuff that I had yet to be exposed to. So I hid my love of traditional jazz music.”
It was more than a decade later that Price and Vilray began to collaborate. She had been on the road much of each year with Lake Street Dive and he had been developing his own solo act, just voice and guitar. Though Vilray had kept up with his composing after graduating from the conservatory, he had fallen out of performing and playing his guitar. But when he broke a finger at his day job he realized what had been lacking in his creative life:
“That slapped me awake and made me realize I only had so long on planet Earth with ten fingers. A friend ran into me on the street when I was in the cast and said to me, ‘You seem really bummed.’ I talked to him a little bit about not playing guitar. He said, ‘I’m going to book you for a show a month or two after you are out of the cast so start thinking about the music now. Once you are out of the cast, you can reclaim that part of your life.’ So I played a couple of shows at this series he was running at Bar Below Rye in Williamsburg, and Rachael came to one of them.”
Price remembers that night vividly: “It was a very moving show. There was dead silence while Vilray was playing. It really tugged at my heart because I missed singing this style of music. I had never really even performed it, even though I was a jazz singer. My repertoire was from a bit later. But I was obsessed with the big band singers of the thirties and forties. I asked Vilray if he would let me do that gig with him, and then he gave me one of his songs to learn. No one knew it wasn’t a standard. That got the ball rolling for him on the writing. He started sending me songs constantly. We quickly went from peppering in his songs with obscure ones from the thirties and forties to all Vilray songs.”
This story appears courtesy of Nonesuch Publicity.
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