REVIEW: Lael Summer – ‘Burden To Bear’

lael summer

Artist: Lael Summer
Album: Burden To Bear
Genre: Soul, Pop

You would never believe that Lael Summer was in her early to mid twenties by listening to the maturity and refined sounds in her music and (ostensibly) experient vocals. Backed by a wise choice of band consisting of True Groove founder Tomás Doncker and a slew of his talented affiliates, Summer boasts a sizable funk and soul vibe well beyond her years with influences spanning from her east coast hometown to her current residence in sunny southern California.

It doesn’t take but a moment or two upon being greeted with Burden To Bear‘s opening track, “I Need A Man,” to be bombarded with an uncontrollable impulse to move. Funky bass and a massive horn intro demands your attention as they introduce Lael Summer, the star of the show. At the 10-second mark, Summer makes her grand entrance with a smoky, smooth delivery and confident approach. As we enter the chorus and Summer comes clean, it’s clear that this girl means business. Her voice is impressive and all the instrumentation surrounding it is a delicious icing on the cake.

Lael wears her emotions on her sleeve throughout Burden To Bear. Whether it’s admitting that she could use a companion or being brutally honest with someone that clearly got on her bad side, we realize as each track passes that Summer isn’t one to suppress her feelings. “We both know that I’ve got twice the balls that you do / You won’t look me in the eyes but still I see right through you.” Moments like this as Lael gets spiteful and frank create a dichotomy between the genre and lyrical themes that may feel unnatural to some more versed in funk and soul. And for some, lyrics in a song such as “You’re So Small” may be a telltale sign of the musician’s youth while others may just read it as a woman scorned.

If you’re the type to scrutinize lyrics and their depth, you can always rely on Doncker and company’s talents on their respective instruments but even as Summer’s words may not break any new ground, they certainly aren’t hard to swallow. Hell, they revolve around the most widely covered topic in the history of song. At the very least, if you can’t get into the music, at least take the four and a half minutes to listen through her Hall & Oates cover. Her version of “Do What You Want, Be What You Are” that’s included on the album is killer and may be a good starting point for a new listener.

The musicians that contributed to Burden To Bear are veterans of the genre with many, many years of experience combined so it goes without saying that the instrumentation from start to finish is top-notch. However, as Lael Summer is younger by a large margin, her developing skills will be easy to pick out from the work of the more seasoned contributors. Her lyrics may be simple and not particularly deep, but the experience yet to be gained in her writing is made up for ten-fold in the natural talent possessed in her powerful voice. I have faith in the fact that as she continues to surround herself with these musical mentors that her talents in all aspects will progress, and for that, I very much look forward to following what she creates in the years to come.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by: Brian Lion — (Follow him on Twitter)

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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