Laura Zucker “Lifeline”

Independent,2023

Classic songwriting helped by a 20-year career hiatus.

Laura Zucker is an award-winning singer-songwriter, a 3 time Kerrville Newfolk finalist, and a 5 time West Coast Songwriters Association Best Song Of The Year winner, and she has written a best seller on the art of songwriting. So far so relatively normal, however, things take on a slightly different perspective when you realise that Laura Zucker only returned to music after a hiatus of twenty years at the age of 46, leaving a successful career as a lawyer, such was the urge she had to make music.  While Laura Zucker’s music comes under the folk umbrella, she is folk in the way Beth Nielsen Chapman, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Janis Ian are. For ‘Lifeline’, her 6th album, Laura Zucker worked with Ed Tree as producer, and they played a lot of the instruments themselves, with additional help from Scott Babcock on drums, Marty Axelrod on piano and organ, Richard Dodd on cello, and Ben Zucker on vibes. As with many artists, Laura Zucker accumulated quite a few songs during the pandemic and some of those are included here.

‘Lifeline’ opens strongly with the love song ‘Takes The Shape Of You’ driven by some lively acoustic guitars. It is not only the quality of the song that catches the listener’s attention, it is the quality of Laura Zucher’s voice.  Things quieten down with the reflective ‘Highwire’ and its gentle mix of acoustic and electric guitars. Next, there is the country pop vibe of ‘The Parting’ about a failed relationship where Laura Zucker admits to being in the wrong rather than being the wronged. We are in folk territory for ‘Time Love’ which examines how emotion has its own dynamic, with Laura Zucher’s vocals enhanced by a cello. The title track ‘Lifeline’ is about the unstoppable passing of time and is taken at a wistful pace that allows the listener to really hear the fine lyrics.

Laura Zucker shows her descriptive power with words on ‘Autumn’ which explores the circles of time and the passage of one’s own time with a jazzy feel from the vibes and guitar. Another failed relationship is the subject of ‘No Good Way To Say Goodbye’ and this time Laura Zucker explores the fundamental truths behind breakups. The cello is featured again on ‘What I Would Have Said’ which looks at the regrets that are natural at Laura Zucker’s time of life. ‘Objects In The Mirror’ is virtually a solo acoustic track with just the light colouring of keyboards and bass which looks at a relationship over time. Electric guitar is featured on ‘Let It Roll’ and while Laura Zucker can’t be accused of rockin’ out, it is certainly a lively tune that accepts you can’t change everything even if you want to. We are in singer-songwriter territory for ‘Do You See The Moon’ with Laura Zucker accompanying herself on piano and synth. The penultimate track, ‘Holy’, uses religion as a metaphor for a relationship and the organ gives the tune a slight gospel feel. The album closes with a plea that lives should be lived whatever the risk, and the simple accompaniment allows Laura Zucker’s voice to shine as she asks that we ‘Iron The Wrinkles Back In’, ensuring  ‘Lifeline’ closes on a high.

There is nothing new or experimentally groundbreaking on ‘Lifeline’, but what is here is a set of thirteen well-written songs that are well sung, that fit well within the canon of classic singer-songwriter fare. Laura Zucker’s late return to music means that she can bring a set of life experiences to bear on her songwriting that younger writers can’ not. In interviews, Laura Zucker has said she has experienced some ageism in her career, hopefully, this won’t keep ‘Lifeline’ from a wider audience as she does explore some important truths.


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7/10
7/10

About Martin Johnson 274 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.

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