The Dalton blues

Spencer Wilkins, Staff Writer

On the corner of 89th Street and Lexington Avenue in New York City stands a 12-story building, owned by the Dalton School. To me, the “Dalton” name evokes many sentiments, the most common being rigorous, academic, and oddly competitive third grade chess. Every year, sixth to eighth grade Daltonians perform their own interpretation of a famous musical in front of the school. During one of these shows, the first actor timidly walked on stage, and as she lifted her head and belted out her first note, the entire auditorium was astounded. When she finished her song, the Head of Middle School shot up from his chair and gave her a standing ovation. This was the moment I knew Gracie Lawrence was something special, and Breakfast by the band Lawrence was the first step toward her international fame.

Lawrence is a Soul-Pop band led by siblings Gracie and Clyde Lawrence. They are accompanied by a bassist, a guitar player, two drummers, two saxophone players (one tenor, one alto), and a trumpet player. The combination of all of these instruments and musicians forms a unique sound. Their 12-song debut, Breakfast, is like actual breakfast: good at all times of the day. The album kicks off with one of my favorite songs of 2016, “Do You Wanna Do Nothing With Me?” Clyde tries to court a woman by “Putting on [his] finest sweatpants then ordering Pad Thai.” The entire Lawrence band wailing away on their instruments backs these quirky lyrics. As Clyde and Gracie trade off from being the lead vocalist on each track, they add their own distinctive touches to each piece.

Clyde and Gracie mostly compose songs about romance, but thanks to their songwriting acumen, the subject never seems to get monotonous. In the song “Play Around,” one of the more laid-back songs on the project. Clyde talks about a woman who is stringing him along. The song feels like it could have been taken off a Pixar soundtrack, especially because Clyde’s vocals closely resemble Randy Newman’s on this track. On the very next cut, “Me & You,” Gracie takes the lead on a similar song of lost love. She sings, “I read between the lines/ but I misread all the signs” to an up-tempo funk beat reminiscent of Rose Royce’s Car Wash.

No matter what song you listen to on Breakfast, you can expect three things: quirky and engaging songwriting that keeps each song unique, astounding live instrumentation giving the group the aesthetic of a bygone era, and fun-packed in every track – it is Breakfast after all.    

Grade: A