Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards premiered their song “Dreaming” over the weekend from their July 17 album BITTER BETTER. The album finds the group drawing on their extensive string music background and knowledge of folk and roots music, incorporating dance-worthy foundational grooves, synth, and loops to push the boundaries of the genre.
I was struggling with the juxtaposition of feeling more grounded, creative, and content than I have in a long time, and all the while wishing the news from back home was just a bad dream. It’s impressionist or stream of consciousness feelings.
Of the accompanying video, Laura states,
I started imagining the video even before we finished recording the song. I wanted the band to have the fun of dancing in our own music video but without feeling the pressure of not being professional dancers. By May, the whole idea was brewing in the back of my head when I arrived at the wedding of some good friends to spend the day playing music and celebrating their big day. I met one of the best friends of the bride, Annie Kahane, who, with every step she took, was unmistakeably a dancer. It turned out Annie was also a choreographer and the artistic director of Alive and Well Productions. Sometime later in the evening over a bottle of proper champagne, I told her my idea. She was instantly encouraging and excited, onboard, and asking questions to help the vision come to life. She had studied in Chicago, lived for a while in NYC, and was now based in Berkeley, CA.
“As luck would have it, the Dance Cards and I had a gig in Chicago at the beginning of August and could arrive a few days early to make the video happen. Annie found dancers. She choreographed movements for us and put me in touch with a friend, dancer, and director Monica Thomas who then helped us find our DP Rudy Rubio. In no time at all, Annie flew into Chicago to begin working with the dancers, I spent the day shopping in Oak Park trying to find a monochromatic outfit for the shoot and the band flew into Chicago. We spent the next day in Thalia Hall being coached, moving, and watching in awe as Annie, Earlyn Whitehead, Berit Godo & Camryn Babcock moved across the floor.
BITTER BETTER showcases Cortese and multi-instrumentalist producer Sam Kassirer (Lula Wiles, Lake Street Dive) striving to capture the most adventurous approach to each moment. While the album’s 11 tracks provide relief and release, they also encourage self-examination and personal discovery—the work that is necessary to sustain the energy needed to keep striving, to connect, and to continue to make our complicated world a better place.
With BITTER BETTER, Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards throw out the rule book, creating a beautifully vivid, musically unexpected canvas from their refreshingly unconventional perspective.