Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Natalia Zukerman “Gas Station Roses”

Pop rock/Americana
Natalia Zukerman is a singer/songwriter in Brooklyn, NY with a delicately firm voice that recalls Sam Phillips at her best. She is a member of the folk group Winterbloom, previously reviewed here on BMF (see review).

Zukerman is backed by an all-star cast that boasts producer and guitarist extraordinaire Willy Porter and members of his band, along with Garrison Starr on background vocals. No surprise, the performances and production are excellent – a rich realm of sound that still manages to feel like it has breathing room. Zukerman also incorporates captivating bits from jazz, blues, and folk to round out her Americana sound. What is disappointing, however, is that despite all this sophisticated instrumentation and talent, the songs have virtually no strong hooks.

Zuckerman describes “Gas Station Roses” as an “album about seeing and being who you truly are”, and there is no faulting her astute and often witty lyrics. The seductive title track is enticing at first, but it wears thin after you realize this foreplay reaches no climax. Things slow down to a dull crawl with the drawn out “Indiana”, making the middle of the CD seem to drag on forever. Suitably, “Brooklyn” is a stand out track, with crisp acoustic guitars and a confident vocal delivered over buoyant backing vocals. “Come Undone”, quite the Lucinda Williams homage with its gentle bluegrass feel, is another highlight – bright and upbeat and helped along with some engaging harmonies.

Zukerman delivers a very solid and consistent release that will appeal to most 30-something fans of folk rock. If you need a strong melody to maintain your interest, I don’t think this is going to cut it. Check out “Gas Station Roses” if you like Aimee Mann, Works Progress Administration, or Garrison Starr. The record comes out this March and will be performing a series of dates with the legendary Janis Ian and Tom Paxton.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 8

Natalia Zukerman - Official site.

Listen to “Brooklyn”