Lael Summer has got some sultry pipes and a sweltry little attitude that seems to go hand in hand with being a female soul singer. The target of her sass is usually her no good man or society at large but she also has time to turn the looking glass inward and allow for some mature musical introspection. At least as much as one can expect from a 22-year-old. The fact that this particular young lady was raised on the hard streets of NYC gives her musical backbone a little more weight.
Global Soul pioneer Tomás Doncker was on deck to ensure proper production was carried out, handling the intricate arrangements with a deft touch. The retro strings of “Do What You Want, Be What You Are” work their Motown magic on a tune that excels in both presentation and vocal delivery. Though it is probably the most dated sounding song on Burden to Bear, it is handled with incredible class by both the singer and producer. We get a little more spice on the rock-inspired “What Do I Know,” which begins to close the final quarter of the album.
Burden to Bear follows the tradition of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and other authentic neo soul torchbearers. Though she is still young, and has a tendency to wallow in her anger and sadness, Lael Summer shows promise as both a songwriter and a performer, delivering a refreshing sonic cocktail. If your mouth is watering for a fresh pop twist to classic soul, drink up.