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Lael Summer’s “Unavailable” Reviewed


I wrote this three years ago at Lael Summer’s record release gig at Triad (here):  “It is a wrangling, subordinating scene stealer of a voice and, at center stage, it takes over from both Lael’s nervousness and the bands overwhelming thereness. It takes care of Lael’s early reticence, it takes over the packed out theater. Her voice is her calling card, it is why we are here.” She really has a lovely voice, and while all we’ve heard is a remix of “I Need A Man” and a cover song since the release of said LP Burden To Bare, the woman has just graduated college so time is certainly on her side.

Plus, Lael’s Mom is Marla Mase and if he isn’t her Godfather he should be is Tomas Doncker, so Lael has a strong team behind her, and sometimes time is a good thing.

It’s a good thing here, and  with the release of a single this week, “Unavailable” the soul singer is back. “Unavailable” with its sizzling hot slow grind groove plus horns is a little knockout of a track, it’s all heat seeking missile of thwarted desire, and also of something else, “we can heal together” Lael sings, and then “I wish it could be that simple”, with the horns brassing in, like part of an ongoing conversation. The story of yet another embryonic messed up relationship filled with a stringent sexuality and frustration. All moving on its stomach with a great bass hook reworked off John Lennon’s “Going Down On Love”,  from one end to the other.

The singing is powerful yet subdued till she hits the bridge and then she lets loose, it is enough to remind you that Lael reminds first and foremost a great soul singer.

“Unavailable” is an oddly complex song, part soap opera, part funk workout, part vocal gymnastic, grown up romantic disasters in the pending file and good to have Lael baring her burdens again.

Grade: B+

1 Comment

  1. Fritz on November 15, 2021 at 7:28 am

    Lael Summer was pretty and talented. RIP.

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