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Rachael & Vilray

January 23, 2022 | 337 words | Music

You may know the voice of Rachael Price from her work with the group Lake Street Dive, who first met as students at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.  That was about twenty years ago, and they’ve been recording and touring together ever since.  They have a very relaxed “unplugged” sound, which puts the focus on the musicality of the music, if that makes any sense.  Four friends sitting around riffing.  Their original stuff is always fun, and they do some of the best covers around.

But the show I saw last night featured Ms. Price in a different setting, as the other half of a twosome she’s been part of since 2016, with another New England Conservatory of Music chum by the name of Vilray.

This side gig allows Price to get in touch with her inner Ella Fitzgerald.  The duo play cuts from The American Songbook of a couple of generations back, but not necessarily the hits of yesteryear you may have heard of. They uncover hidden gems from the 1930s and 1940s filled with witty wordplay, and bring them to life with their low-key arrangements and loving attention.

Their standard set list has expanded to include many of Mr. Vilray’s own compositions as well.  He draws his song-writing inspiration from the period he most admires.  His pleasing way with both lyric and melody matches the past masters he clearly emulates.

In addition to his composing, the man is positively a revelation as a performer.  There is his playing, his singing voice, and his whistling.  That’s right, whistling.  Vilray is single-handedly brining back whistling as an art form.  His amplified acoustic guitar, these two voices, and his whistling are all you need.  I can’t remember the last concert I attended where I simply closed my eyes and luxuriated in the sound.

Mr. Vilray is lucky to have found Ms. Price as his musical collaborator/interpreter.  And we are lucky the two of them found each other.  What a delightful evening of entertainment they provide.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr

January 23, 2022

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