Dreaming Life – Reviews

Dreaming Life Album Cover - the words Dreaming Life Laura Zakian written in capitals in two shades of blue, next to a sketched image of Laura smudged with blue digital watercolour

Jazzwise| Robert Shaw| June 2022

Four Stars

After releasing her 2014 set Songs for Modern Lovers, which mixed versions of tracks from Frank Sinatra’s Songs for Swinging Lovers (1956) with much more contemporary material, Laura Zakian stopped performing for a period, an absence ascribed to a bout of melancholic depression. In 2019 she made a very welcome half-return in the form of Minor Moments, a five-track EP consisting of material written by Zakian and her new collaborator, vibraphonist, percussionist and composer Martin Pyne.

Dreaming Life could now be said to represent her full return as it consists of five tracks from Minor Moments reprised and sometimes rearranged and supplemented with further Zakian/Pyne compositions, plus a cover of Patty Griffin’s ‘Coming Home,’ in order to make up a full-length release. There are some captivating tunes here, gently modulating between moods and subverting expectations, as on the lovely first number, ‘Plainsong,’ which features find baritone work from Zakian’s husband, Paul Bartholomew, or ‘Here Comes The Fall,’ with its nagging opening piano line from Steve Lodder that tugs insistently at the listener’s consciousness. An impressive collaboration that promises much more.

Jazz Views | Nick Lea | June 2022

Not a follow up to, but a continuation of the 2019 EP, Minor Moments, Laura Zakian has added a further 7 songs written in collaboration with Martin Pyne. If Minor Moments welcomed Laura back after illness and time away from the scene, Dreaming Life continues the story of her song writing partnership and road back to life after rudely being interrupted by the pandemic.

However, Payne and Zakian are thankfully able to pick up where they left off and the addition of the new songs to the five originally released on the EP complete an album that is full of humanity, humility and emotion. As a vocalist Zakian appears to be regaining her confidence and simply sounding better than ever. 

With her lyrics covering a wide range of emotions, Martin Pyne seems the perfect collaborator to provide the music, and his compositions are equally as expansive. Of the new songs,  ‘Shadow Dance’ opens with the stately bass of Andy Hamill and Pyne’s ethereal vibraphone before Laura steps in with a finely wrought and wonderfully paced vocal, while Steve Lodder’s moody and introspective piano opens ‘Indolence Wins’. Zakian’s vocal takes on a melancholy weariness and air of resignation.

‘Crab Walk’ struts somewhat nonchalantly with some fine baritone playing from Bartholomew, and the tonal palette of the group is opened with some brooding bass clarinet on ‘Snake In The Grass’. This relationship between baritone/bass clarinet and vocals is one of the factors that make the music so compelling. As life partners, Zakian and Bartholomew have a connection that both transcends and enhances the music. Coupled with Pyne’s uniquely individual percussion you have a group sound that is quite unlike any other.

If you enjoyed Minor Moments, you will certainly be wanting to hear this new release. If you are not yet familiar with Laura and her collaborative work with Martin Pyne and this fine ensemble then you really should be, and this is a great place to make their acquaintance.

Record Collector Music Magazine| June 2022

The London-based singer/songwriter Laura Zakian brings a unique artistic sensibility to the art of jazz singing. Her latest opus, Dreaming Life, is a collection of musical ruminations infused with atmosphere and an aching sense of melancholy