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A Review of Lael Summer’s debut, Burden to Bear

By Kevin Tshiamala

The last time we spoke with True Groove Records leading force, Tomas Doncker, he asked us to keep an eye out for an artist called Lael Summer. That was back in January. As with life, it got a bit busy. Therefore, Miss Summer’s debut album, Burden to Bear, which was released late January slipped through the cracks. Fortunately, good things come to those who wait and today we bring you Lael Summer’s soul, funk, pop and bossa songs that make up, Burden to Bear.

The album kicks off with a low bearing funky jam titled, “I Need a Man,” which expresses clearly what this debut will be about, bearing it all. The song smoothly transitions to a more R&B than pop song making it an easy favorite for the casual two-step. The album continues to move through well composed, soul, funk and pop songs with sound instrumentation, meaningful lyrics and good vocals. Lael’s voice sounds as if it is naturally on pitch, on key, which makes her vocal inflections clear with powerful, elegant tonality. As a result, when she sings those heartfelt lyrics in “You’re So Small,” “Make You Whole,” or “Look Around” the emotion is not only heard, but felt.

By listening to her album, you would think that Lael was in her mid to late thirties and had been through a variety of tragedy due to the amount of wisdom that pours out from song to song. Lael is a senior at The University of Southern California’s elite Popular Music program. She released a debut EP last August and soon later began working with True Groove, Global Soul legend, Tomas Doncker. He not only produced the album with James Dellatacoma, but he played the guitar on most of the tracks and helped Lael with some of the writing process. When you get experienced, seasoned musicians to help you hone your craft, you have a much greater chance of succeeding. This is true of Lael Summer’s debut. Especially when she can take a Hall & Oates song, “Do What You Want, Be What You Are,” and make it sound as appealing as the original.

As Lael stated, “Burden to Bear is especially precious to me because it is my first album; it’s my baby. During the writing process I had the freedom to explore all these facets of my identity I never really acknowledged or could make sense of. I picked through my thoughts, my dreams, my nightmares, conversations, observations and memories and used the fragments of my life to piece together something I could share with others.” That is all any artist ever wants to do. Piece together something they can share with others. It’s a bonus if that something is appreciated by the audience. In the case of Lael Summer’s Burden to Bear, it’s a debut album that should be widely adored.

Burden to Bear is available for purchase on iTunes.

For more information please visit Lael Summer’s official website:

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