Laura Zucker – Lifeline
San Francisco’s Laura Zucker has a bright vocal that starts this set with an instantly memorable tune “Takes the Shape of You.” This effort is her 6th solo CD where she explores subjects of importance & concern basically performed by many musicians today. Connections to the past, present & future. There are hints of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Janis Ian & Beth Nielsen Chapman that run through Ms. Zucker’s finely threaded music.
Laura (vocals/acoustic guitar/piano/synth pad) explores lyrically with an early Joni Mitchell poetic touch. Nothing grating or challenging but paints with watercolor notes instead of harsh hues. More da Vinci than Van Gogh. There are no lulls in her arrangements – each has its enthusiastic level with no snoozers. “The Parting,” is reminiscent of the late Judee Sill (“The Kiss”) with its poignancy, remembrance, regret & memories.
The music on Lifeline (Drops Jan 20–Independent) is to be felt rather than just listened to. The songs deal with no sugarcoated realities, & no angst. Feelings will take us by surprise. There are moments where Laura caresses the style of Joan Baez though not with politics or controversy. Laura’s well-developed folk style isn’t retro — it has enough mainstream in her showcase to make each song memorable. “Time/Love,” has fine vocals framed by Richard Dodd’s cello.
Each song is filled with expressive lyrics & sung with sincerity. Ms. Zucker’s songs are born from walks in meadows, cool running streams, breezes through valleys, the smell of burning wood, hot tea with lemon on a brisk day, spices & jams, warm baked bread, wind chimes & open journals bookmarked with pressed roses.
The musicians contribute richly & apply folk brilliantly to a jazzy guitar lead (“Autumn” & “No Good Way To Say Goodbye”) done exceptionally well with a warm vocal similar to singers Linda Thompson & Madeline Peyroux.
The final track “Iron the Wrinkles Back In,” sounds like a respectful salute to the late & wonderful Nanci Griffith. Sung with Griffith’s lilting playful clarity. Laura’s quite impressive on this. Each tune on this 13-cut, 50-minute CD has journeys, explorations & imagery. She will appeal to admirers of Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill, Mary Chapin Carpenter & Kathy Mattea.
Musicians: Ed Tree (bass/acoustic & electric guitar/Hammond organ/horn arrangements/producer), Ben Zucker (vibes), Scott Babcock (drums) & Marty Axelrod (piano/acoustic piano/keys/Hammond organ).
Highlights: “Takes the Shape of You,” “The Parting,” “Time/Love,” “Autumn,” “No Good Way To Say Goodbye,” “What I Would Have Said,” “Objects In the Mirror,” “Iron the Wrinkles Back In,” & “Do You See the Moon.”