Zukerman’s guitar is a strutting brass band one minute, a sighing lover the next.
Scott Alarik – Boston Globe (Oct 23, 2008)
Smokey-voiced songstress wisely mixes the rootsy styles on her fresh and fine Willy Porter-produced “Brand New Frame” album – from torch blues to country swing – to broaden reach and constituency. If you’re a fan of Madeleine Peyroux, Bonnie Raitt or even Amy Winehouse, you’ll find stuff to connect with here.
- Philadelphia Daily News (May 9, 2008)
Zukerman released Brand New Frame in May, and it’s a warm collection of mild folk rock, pitched somewhere between the delicate perfection of Jenny Lewis and the visceral soul of Joan Osborne.
Jeff Ignatius – River Cities’ Reader (Jul 18, 2008)
This album left me wishing I knew more about folk and roots music so that I could really praise it properly. Hopefully it’s sufficient to say that although I regard most acoustic singer/songwriter CDs that cross my desk with a combination of hope and dread (and dread usually wins out), I was enthralled with this latest effort from our own Zukerman. Blending elements of country, folk and blues, Zukerman spins out songs of wonderful clarity and simplicity. The instrumentation is generally sparse, putting the focus on her impeccable guitar playing, clever songwriting and unique voice. As talented a songwriter as a musician, Zukerman has a flair for blending cleverness and pocket wisdom in lyrics like “This town is like New York/but only six doors deep.” I thought there was something familiar about her honey voice – Dolly Parton meets Ani DiFranco? – but the real point of comparison is that she sounds like an artist who’s fully realized, fully present, and should be headed for big things.
Brian Jewell – Bay Windows (May 28, 2008)
The fact that Americana artist Natalia Zukerman plays acoustic guitar so well and sings superlatively is not a surprise. After all, she hails from a famous musical family. Her father Pinchas is a world renowned violinist and conductor, her mother Eugenia an internationally known flutist, her sister Arianna an opera singer and her grandfather a popular Klezmer clarinet player. What is surprising is how good a songwriter Natalia is. Her lyrics are evocative and poetic, yet still manage to tell a good story. She sings about people and places with a clear eye for detail and clever way of turning a phrase. Natalia understands how strong emotions can make one run around naked with joy at 6 a.m., or mourn the loss of deer on the highway while pining for a loved one, or yearn for a time when parents fought with each other because it was preferable to the current time when one had to leave to fight in a war. Her musical talents and songwriting gifts form a powerful combination.
Steve Horowitz – PopMatters (Jun 6, 2008)
Zukerman’s last CD, though a studio recording, had the feel of a live album. It was just her voice and solo guitar — “no overdubs, no do-overs,” as she wrote in the liner notes. The sound was intimate, introspective, and cozy. Her new one, Brand New Frame, which she will unveil at her CD release concert at the Ark on Friday, April 18, is her first with producer and guitar slinger Willy Porter. Here, backed by a full band, she shows she can also rock exuberantly. In the title song she sings, “Same old picture in a brand new frame,/And they unveiled it just last week and no one came. Shame./But no one’s listening and no one cares.”
Though she’s been on the singer-songwriter screen for only four years, no way is that an apt description of her music, or of her audiences’ reactions to her performances. During her set at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival in January, someone shouted from Hill Auditorium’s balcony, “You’re phenomenal!” It is an assessment more and more people are likely to come to share. Zukerman’s music commands your attention and affection.
Sandor Slomovits – Ann Arbor Observer (Apr 2, 2008)
The bluesy folk-rock tunes, burnished croon (and) serious guitar chops of Massachusetts singer Natalia Zukerman demand your attention.
- TimeOut New York (Nov 15, 2006)
Growing up in a musical family, it’s no surprise that Natalia Zukerman became a musician herself. It is surprise, though, that the daughter of a flutist and a violinist should grow into a folk artist heavily influenced by jazz and the blues.
Brian Jewell – Bay Windows (Mar 8, 2007)
Hard work and long hours on the road are paying off for slide guitarist/singer Natalia Zukerman. Playing close to 200 solo shows a year is a good way to expand an audience, but possessing a playing style and singing voice as pure as Zukerman’s sure doesn’t hurt either.
Graham Haworth – Santa Cruz Sentinel (Mar 31, 2007)
Review of the Ann Arbor Folk Festival:
Then there was slide guitarist Natalia Zukerman. Someone in the balcony yelled out: “You’re phenomenal!,” and he was right. Stage presence and musical talent – she’s got it all. – Roger LeLievre, The Ann Arbor News (Jan 28, 2008)
Opening for Lucy Kaplansky at the Coffee With Conscience Series in Westfield, NJ:
“However, the truly delightful surprise of the evening was the stellar performance of the opening act by singer/songwriter Natalia Zukerman.
Also singing a repertoire of original songs, Ms. Zukerman proved herself to be a consummate singer and performer.
Her enchanting vocal agility, coupled with creative and thought-provoking lyrics, made her performance truly unique and engaging.
Accompanying herself on folk guitar, Ms. Zukerman displayed her wide range of musical styles including rock, folk, bluegrass and country, emanating the power and resonance that a memorable acoustic performance should embody.
“You can’t be the one to fix her. Is it the chemistry or the alchemy that’s not right? Can’t get back what’s already gone. Can’t take back what’s already said. Like watching gold turn back to lead,” she mused. – Deborah Madison, The Westfield Leader (Jan 24, 2008)
The Earlville Opera House presented Natalia on May 20, 2006…The ad for the gig promised “original folk with hints of jazz, blues and soul…” We got all that and a lot more….I was immediately impressed with her beautiful voice. Her melodic voice is soothing, sultry and sweet! This singer/songwriter presented a collection of songs/stories which are not simply written, but crafted to reflect her laid-back persona. The tunes are filled with imagery of her fascinating life experiences. Combined with her articulate voice is an interesting delivery style which includes skat, sampling other famous song lyrics and improvising the lyrics (especially about the space heater in her dressing room)…. – Ron Ran Waite, All For One: News For the GLBT Communities of Central New York (Dec, 2006)
Natalia Zukerman, comes from a family of noted classical musicians (her mother, Eugenia, is a flutist; her father, Pinchas, is a violinist; and her sister, Arianna, is an opera singer), but she has chosen to forsake grand performance halls for a dusty resophonic slide guitar in small clubs. She has nimble fingers capable of picking upward of thirty notes per measure, and when she sings she can switch from scat to swoon in the course of a glissando. – The New Yorker
Natalia is the whole package – I highly recommend checking out this album. Knowing of course, that you’ll then have to get her earlier discs too. She’s playing all over the country this spring and summer — be one of the folks who can say “I knew her when!” – Susan Frazier – Goldenrod (Jul 31, 2006)
Review of Ottawa Bluesfest:
“.. insightful lyrics and impressive acoustic guitar work of Natalia Zukerman, who would land somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Ani DiFranco on the female singer-songwriter roster. It was a terrific performance for Zukerman…edgy and engaging…” – Lynn Saxberg – The Ottawa Citizen (Jul 17, 2006)
Editor’s Note: Whether we are fans or fellow musicians, I think we all have a voyeuristic desire to be present when two great independent musicians, who happen to be very good friends, sit down for a chat. I asked world pop powerhouse, Erika Luckett, if she would do just that for the launch issue of Stave. In my mind, one great guitarist interviewing another would be the juicy kind of conversation real music lovers would appreciate. Here is an excerpt from Erika’s conversation with the very talented, Natalia Zukerman – Erika Luckett, Stave Magazine (Aug 5, 2006)
What’s the best part of being a musician? Just getting to be in that raw space of creating and communicating with people on such a deep level…having that be my job seems ridiculous sometimes. The way I get to meet people and feel like a cultural ambassador…When you connect over some musical expression, it makes makes you feel less alone…
What’s the hardest part of being a musician? The sacrifices you have to make for travelling so much. The sense of community really changes. My community is other travelling musicians…You always miss the people that you don’t get to see. – Geri Parlin, La Crosse Tribune (Aug 25, 2006)
“(Natalia has) released (her) newest glory in the sparsest of forms. Natalia works through 13 original tunes with just her voice and guitar. It’s like going to see her in an intimate venue sans banter and applause. Intimate really says it all, for you can hear every little squeak and breath. Sweet.” – Kelly McCartney, Velvet Park (Jul 15, 2006)
Natalia Zukerman’s newest album, Only One, has the immediacy of an instant, almost-demo recording. Which is because, in many respects, that’s what it is. The entire record was recorded over two days with “no overdubs, no do-overs” as the liner notes state. She’s very much like an American KT Tunstall … or perhaps that should be vice versa?
In lesser hands, this one-take-wonderstuff would be at best a gimmick, at worst an embarrassment. In the accomplished guitar strumming hands of Natalia Zukerman, however, this is a simple statement of incredible talent.
The slide guitar of the title track is repeated throughout the record, always providing an eliding foundation for the fluidity of Zukerman’s lovely voice. A voice which, I might add, is mostly soft as cotton but can occasionally show the glint of steel nails.
In the style of Suzanne Vega and other storytelling musicians, Zukerman’s songs are three-dimensional and eschew a verse-chorus-verse, more poetry reading than Songwriting 101.
Zukerman’s Only One is a great record for those coming summer evenings when all you want to do is hold a cold glass of wine in your hand, turn the lights down and watch the fireflies hover. – Todd Beemis, Indie-music.com
Smart, roomy….Natalia Zukerman’s wise-beyond-her-years debut is simply in no hurry to win you over by force. Instead, Zukerman allows listeners to come to her at their own pace with her roomy arrangements, prose-style phrasing, and the come-hither sultriness of her slinky, earthy vocals. It’s a record that seems to want play hard-to-get- and you know that drives you crazy. From the moody trip-hop of “If You’re Going to Try,” to the two-step, Nashville detour of “Dancing Shoes,” Zukerman flirts with different genres throughout Mortal Child. Zukerman brims with confidence. And you know that drives you crazy, too.
- Performing Songwriter
I knew from the first track that this was a gem. On first listen, I didn’t even take notes. I just sat back and let Zukerman’s spunky, dreamy, jazzy rock jam take over my apartment. The musicians scatted, they strummed, they broke into wild bluegrass interludes. I’ve never had houseguests like these. I think the standup bass player left the smoldering remains of a cigarette in one of my coffee mugs.
Jennifer Layton – Indie-music.com
Along a similar fault line, you’ll find Natalia Zukerman’s new independent release On a Clear Day. She too adds some jazz flourishes, while nevertheless tipping her pick to the blues with her smoky slide guitar and sweetly seductive come-hither vocals. Zukerman’s craftsmanship is clearly evident upon first listen, though the layered intricacies demand a more focused engagement with the music. The poetry through which she searches her soul and reveals the workings of her innermost emotional world is at once stunning and familiar. Allison Miller, Julie Wolf, and other marvelous musicians support her noble and glorious endeavor.
Kelly McCartney – Velvet Park
Natalia Zukerman’s newest release, “On a Clear Day” is an amazing mix of instrumental and lyrical balance that lets her true talent shine through. She has come into her own as an accomplished musician and songwriter with this batch of songs that will surely establish her place among the best of today’s emerging artists.
- Concering Women
This is an album that is so well written and has such intelligent lyrics that it requires at least two listens to get it all in. Once just to hear the songs and the flow of the album, and a second to read along with the lyrics and see what great stories Natalia has to tell. Hopefully she will share more of her stories with us in the future, but for now I want some time to absorb On A Clear Day.
- On A Clear Day gets an A rating from The Best Female Musicians
These songs make me want to pick up the guitar, but I know I’d never be able to play like her, so I’ll stick to being a listener rather than a participant.
- Collected Sounds: A Guide To Women in Music
New York singer/songwriter Natalia Zukerman has released five albums. As accomplished an artist as she is a musician, she included original paintings in some preordered copies of her latest, Gas Station Roses.
When did you first start painting?
I was terribly dyslexic as a kid and couldn’t read (books or music) until a pretty late age. I learned to play music by ear, and I learned to write by copying the images I saw. Over and over and over again. The capital letters B and E, the numbers 3 and 4, they became almost abstract shapes, my pencil tracing the lines that were written out for me until I could replicate them on my own.
We had an assignment in 4th or 5th grade that had something to do with Egyptians, and I ended up copying a wall painting from a Pharaoh’s tomb. I copied exactly the image that I saw, taking what I’d learned from my reading and writing lessons (brain re-organizing!) and applying it to these forms—bodies, clothes, instruments, colors, lines and shadow took shape on the page. It was my first painting and I still have it- framed and in a storage box…somewhere!
Are you inspired by a particular painter or artistic movement?
My grandmother (my mom’s mom) was a painter and ceramist. I loved visiting my grandparents and playing with clay in the basement of their house. In high school, I loved painters like John Singer Sargent, Andrew Wyeth and of course I had a poster of a Dali painting and an Escher print in my room. Later, I discovered Jenny Saville and her exploration of the female form blew my mind. But it wasn’t until college that I discovered what moves me the most—a guest speaker came to my art history class to talk about the Chicano Mural Art Movement. I learned about Los Tres Grandes—Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros and their influence on the mural-art movement in California, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. I started studying the women muralists in California like Judith Baca, Susan Cervantes and others. I read and looked at everything I could find and decided I’d move to San Francisco after college to paint murals. And I did! It took me a while though—I was a mural tour guide first through Precita Eyes and then started volunteering on community art projects before starting my own mural company, Off The Wall. It’s the community art process that still excites and inspires me most—its ability to tell a story, to ignite activism and to bring together groups of people to create long-lasting, meaningful and beautiful works of art.
How does painting differ from music as a creative outlet for you?
I’m actually beginning to see these two disciplines as coming from the same place. My friend Andy Friedman (musician and incredible illustrator/cartoonist for publications like The New Yorker and Time) once described creativity to me by saying that it’s like water coming out of a hole. If you put your finger in it, you can manipulate it and make it come out sideways—slower, faster, up, down. But it’s always the same water. In other words, whether “it” is coming out as a mural, a painting on canvas, a song, or a piece of wooden jewelry, it’s coming from the same place, the same well. Both require a lot of work, practice, attention. When I’ve spent too long a stretch on music, my brushes start screaming at me and vice versa- when I’m spending too much time in my studio, my guitar looks so lonely. And mad! So they’re not that different—needy, rewarding, expansive, maddening and freeing all at the same time.
Where can we see your work in person?
My most recent murals are in restaurants in Brooklyn—Villa Pancho Taqueria at 1047 Bedford Avenue; Back 9 Grill at 635 Vanderbilt Ave.; Zaytoons at 472 Myrtle Avenue. Other murals: People’s History of Telegraph Avenue (Telegraph and Haste, Berkeley, Calif.); Planet Rainbow (Rainbow School, Oakland, Calif.), Alice on the Wall (Chambers Street, New York); Yellow Metrobus and Una Pequena Historia de Nuestros Mundos (Havana, Cuba), Tiny Teeth (Phoenix, AZ). I’m also designing necklaces for Bergevin-Lane Vineyards in Walla Walla, Wash., and they’re available in the winery and storefront. They’re hand-painted miniatures on reclaimed guitar wood. I’m also currently at work on commissioned paintings based on song lyrics.
I’m writing to you from Savannah, GA. Just finished the first few shows with Adrianne Gonzalez on what we’re calling our Art is Song Tour. It’s been an incredible journey so far sharing our paintings based on our songs with you!
We’ve started a really fun offshoot of Art is Song at our shows. We’ve printed out lyrics we used in our paintings and had people pose with them. The results have been so gorgeous that is became a new project we’re calling Art is You! If you can make it to a show, please come pose for a photo. At some point, we’ll have all of them online to view. We’ll also have an online store set up soon so you can see and buy all our prints and paintings!
In addition to all our paintings, Adrianne and I also recorded an EP called “Dust and Stars” that is available only at these shows. To thank you for all your support we want to give you a song to download for free from the EP. It’s a song we wrote together called “Flesh and Bone.” We hope you enjoy it!
In other news, I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be playing bass with Susan Werner at two festivals this month. The incredible Gail Ann Dorsey, who has been playing bass with Susan regularly, is now on tour with Lenny Kravitz. Congratulations to Gail Ann! We wish her all the best and I’m so honored to fill for her for a few dates this summer and into the fall. Check my website for tour dates with Art is Song, Susan Werner and more!
And one last important bit of news:
Adrianne and I are really excited to be working with a great organization called Calling All Crows. At all of our shows, we are collecting donations as part of CAC’s program called Bringing Change to Women. Your change will help bring shelter and learning opportunities to Afghan women in need. We also created a painting that is being auctioned off for a few more days on eBay. Go check it out and place a bid!
"Natalia's voice could send an orchid into bloom while her guitar playing can open a beer bottle with its teeth."– New Yorker
"a strutting brass band one minute, a sighing lover the next."– The Boston Globe
"a wise mix of rootsy styles from torch blues to country swing. If you're a fan of Madeleine Peyroux, Bonnie Raitt or even Amy Winehouse, you'll find stuff to connect with here."– Philadelphia Daily News