Lael Summer’s debut album, titled Burden to Bear is to be released on 21st January, 2014 through True Groove Records. Apart from Lael’s cover of Hall & Oates’ Do What You Want, Be What You Are, all the tracks are written by Lael Summer and Tomas Doncker (album produced by Tomas Doncker and James Dellatacoma, with executive producer, Marla Mase).
Old school soul and funk meets modern-day themes and a contemporary sensibility in the lyrics, all wrapped up in a polished pop production. This New York City performer has had her battles and explores some of her demons in these songs. She has a soulful voice, which she uses well on both the up-tempo songs and the ballads.
Wringing every nuance from a melody, she has soul and r&b in her DNA. The line-up of accomplished musicians on the album, which includes Tomas Doncker, complements the vocals so well.
I’m a sucker for that fat horn section sound, which used to regularly fill a dance floor, and opener, I Need a Man struts its stuff beautifully. Apparently, the man referred to here is coming online slots up short in the bedroom! Hard-hitting lyrics also appear on You’re So Small; again, she’s telling the guy just what she thinks of him! Lael shows her sensitive side on the emotionally moving Make You Whole. I’m also a sucker for fat, funky keyboards, which appear on It’s About Soul, a song about body image and how women try to live up to what they see in the magazines and “some ideal”. This is a feisty Lael Summer, again telling it how it is without compromise.
A slow and sensual Latin beat with sultry vocals on In Time puts the listener in a mellow mood once more, and there’s more sensual lyrics on Kiss and Tell, a piece of soulful pop. As for the cover here, Lael does justice to the Daryl Hall and John Oates song, Do What You Want, Be What You Are with a soulful rendition and the musicians in great form. What Do I Know (about love) is a pop / r&b track, once more with a great arrangement. Look Around Me has those funky horns again. The Good Fight has a plaintive piano intro leading to an uplifting, rousing finale with Lael in defiant mood. Other tracks are titled Too Much and Unconditionally.
Burden to Bear takes you through different moods and emotions and shows that soul and r&b can be about whatever a songwriter wants it to be about. There are songs here to dance to, to be romantic to and to set the world straight to – a musical and personal achievement.