I don’t want to lose you, I don’t want to lose myself. Singer/songwriter Sharaya Summers is quickly becoming one of my favorite female singers. When she sings, this former Angelino who has made her homestead in remote Oregon, she sings with a profound beauty. What some artists might perceive as a city downgrade, Summers’ has awakened yet another veritable sonic journey bringing her listener closer now more than ever. “When It’s Time” has Summers pouring out her heartfelt emotions just as keenly and gripping as her more recent selections “Get What You Give” and “Hourglass”.
In a relatively short time, after years of gigging in the Los Angeles scene Summers married Avid Dancer’s Jacob Summers and the couple soon welcomed parenthood. The life milestones have obviously greatly imprinted her work, as she’s explored feelings of growing older, her role as a mother and wife and her new surroundings. All the while she’s giving her listener a glimpse of that terrifying reality. In previous outings she’s choreographed a sound with a sheen of nostalgia, retro Hammond B organ tails and lingering in the land of dreamy drifters. Always a haunting stillness in her voice. Like a gaze in a family photo album, one has to wonder what is behind the Kodachrome filter. Is it sadness? Is it joy? Summers’ voice in “When It’s Time” is just as lovely as ever, as crystal clear as a young Joni Mitchell. Her siren calling, as hypnotic and beautiful as it is, is hauntingly endearing and magnetic.
In returning to her native Oregon, Summers’ “When It’s Time” takes a bit of the Laurel Canyon sound she gleaned from California. You know that I can’t save you, so I need to save myself, she pines, accompanied by an acoustic guitar. At times you can hear the crack of the acoustic guitar’s neck, a reminder of the delicate soul. The pace of the song descends just low enough to feel like you’re evolving into the same despair Summers’ is facing. Shards of light continuously pass through, with the acoustic guitar yet again acting like a vessel of harmony and a breath of fresh air. Her voice lingers for hours like the dancing smoke of a lit candle.
The impression the listener gets is that this is more than just a relationship song, it’s also an inward reflection. I think she’s singing about not wanting to lose herself and that she must fight and find a way to maintain who she is as an artist. I think she’s taking stock of compartmentalizing herself as a mother, a wife, a singer and as whatever Sharaya makes Sharaya. It’s such a universal theme. Once again, she bridges the crossroads of Mitchell, Lana Del Rey, Sheryl Crow and while she doesn’t sound like her per se, she has the writing style of Tracy Chapman. Summers is one of the most talented songwriters to come to attention in a long time. “When It’s Time” is aptly named – it is Summers’ time to shine for the world.