Natalia Zukerman comes from a family of musicians, and it shows. Her slide guitar has the swagger and skill of artists like Bonnie Raitt and Ani DiFranco. Her smoky alto climbs in and out of lyrics that tell stories with the painterly brush strokes of the visual artist she trained to be. She is one of those performers who have the confidence to be bold in her song choices, and the vulnerability to show a sweetly sensitive side as well.
Gas Station Roses has been a long time in the making. Zukerman has been on the road performing these new tunes both on her own, and as an opener for the legendary Janis Ian. The recording demonstrates the versatility of her artistry in that the music does not fit into a single category, covering Americana, new folk, southern rock and everything in between. She is a wonder on all kinds of strings: electric and acoustic guitars, along with the lap steel.
The CD opens with Brooklyn, a tribute to her hometown. Here, in finely honed lyrics, she urges her lover to stay: "when you come closer/And listen/Over all the noise in Brooklyn/Can't you hear me saying/I've been saying: stay/Stay." It is an upbeat tune with a catchy melody, featuring a wonderful closing solo on tenor sax by Aaron Gardner.
The Right Time is the kind of tune every songwriter wants to write. It's about the exuberance you feel when love finally comes your way. Zukerman nails every nuance of what that moment is like—even the fleeting feeling of love and wishing you could capture it in a bottle and keep it close forever. Patty Larkin contributes a little magic to this song with her backing vocals. This is one of the recording's best cuts.
Zukerman's romantic side is revealed in the loveliness of a song called Always. Here she accompanies herself on guitar with Adrianne Gonzalez on backing vocals, Sarah Milonovich on fiddle and Meghan Toohey on electric guitars.
And saving the best for last, in Little Bird she likens herself to a bird on a wire, singing out its songs day and night, hoping for that opportunity to fly. Here it's just Zukerman and her guitar with an assist from bassist Todd Sickafoose. Sweet and tender, and beautifully produced and performed, it exemplifies Zukerman's gifted musicality. And it is a pleasure to listen to.
Natalia Zukerman has paid her dues, pounding pavements and opening for big name acts on the international stage. With Gas Station Roses she proves that she is ready to take center stage, and become a major musical star with her own distinct vocal style and presence. There is no holding her back. No more dime store roses for this gal. It is time for long stemmed roses and accolades. Gas Station Roses contains a collection of indelible stories, and a rare musicality to match. This is an artist on the rise.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
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