Rachael & Vilray feels like a rare old vinyl gem that a curious collector found and decided to share with the world, an unearthed jazz-vocal treasure. Even if listeners are in on part of the secret and already know Rachael Price as lead vocalist of Lake Street Dive or as a frequent guest on NPR's Live From Here, they will surely research these marvelous yet utterly familiar songs she and guitarist-singer-composer Vilray perform together.
Vilray is very much a contemporary composer who can truly evoke, not merely imitate, Tin Pan Alley tunes from the thirties and forties, a period that he and Price have both long been passionate about. These songs are truly transporting. One can easily believe they could have been plucked from the soundtrack of a Hollywood musical or from a now-forgotten Broadway show. But the fact that they are utterly original, written by Vilray himself expressly for this project, makes them all the more impressive and even more delightful to hear.
Price and Vilray first met in 2003 as students at the New England Conservatory of Music. Even then Price recalls, Vilray had a nimble mind and quick wit when it came to lyrics: “That’s when I knew Vilray was a good songwriter…Vilray was able to take any subject and write excellent poetry about it, funny rhymes, and he would sing the songs.” But at school, says Price, “I didn’t know 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. I didn’t know then that he played it perfectly.”
With Rachael & Vilray, the duo adds a new chapter to the American Songbook, an opportunity to hear tomorrow’s standards today.
Support: Akie Bermiss