By: Thom Jurek
Date: June 2023

In 2000, singer Ute Lemper released Punishing Kiss, a collection written for her by contemporary songsmiths including Nick Cave, Elvis Costello, Neil Hannon, Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan, and Scott Walker. Deeply inspired by the album and its tour, she felt she could begin composing her own tunes. In (future husband) Todd Turkisher’s New York recording studio, she wrote on paper, composed music on a piano, and committed her ideas to analog tape. Though some originals appeared on 2002’s But One Day…, the balance were relegated to her in-laws’ basement. She composed more material for 2008’s Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, but none of those early songs were included.

The source tapes were rediscovered on a shelf in 2021 alongside a backup cassette copy; Turkisherand Lemper restored and digitized them. She realized that some selections were simply too dated to rework, while others held enough of a contemporary spark for reinvention. The couple’s production tweaks included juxtaposing bits of her youthful voice with lyrics re-sung by the artist atop modern grooves. Seized by an impulse to write, she again began scratching on paper, then composing at the piano. Time Traveler’s title track was the first song to emerge in what is ultimately a musical encounter between a mature artist and her younger self.

The title track is a breezy exercise in contemporary jazz framed by casually strummed wah-wah electric guitars, drum kit, keyboards, and piano. Lemper’s phrasing is clean and soft, in an unhurried delivery content to dwell in the spaces between. Meanwhile, she reveals to herself that it’s not only the world that’s changing around us, as time alters us too. The waltz tempo buoying “In My Flame” is elegant, graceful, and deliberately imprecise rhythmically. The lyric juxtaposes present and future with a bittersweet instructive vision of the past. “Moving On” melds pop, blues, and jazz in a pianistic paean to the moment. The spectral, mysterious, luxuriant melody in “Magical Stone” recalls Kate Bush‘s harmonic formalism, though Lemper’s sung phrasing is resonant with her own signature vocal phrasing and playing style. Sung in French, “Envie d’Amour” weds sheeny, multi-textured electro-acoustic pop to inspired nouveau chanson. “Cry in the Dark” evolves from minimal, Rhodes- and guitar-driven jazz to shimmering, sophisticated, sensual pop. The set closes with “The Gift,” a transcendent ballad illustrated by piano, muted brass, and guitars. The protagonist’s journey through the confusion of her inner and outer opacity eventually introduces an open space in her heart where light appears, first in small shards. As confusion lessens, so does doubt, and possibility whispers itself into being. The future, informed by all of these stages, looms hopeful and attainable.

Time Traveler is a consciously constructed song cycle that not only reveals a dialogue between the contemporary artist and her younger self but reveals to the listener the wonder, empathy, and tenderness experienced by both parties.

Click here to see this review and more on AllMusic.

Click on the above image to watch  Ute’s new video for “At The Reservoir” from her new album “Time Traveler”.

“WITH LOVE TO MY FAVORITE SPOT IN NEW YORK CITY – AT THE RESERVOIR IN CENTRAL PARK Thousands of people walk and run here everyday to find a piece of inner peace. So do I with thoughts and music on my mind. The song is born here.”

Video by @WEAREM2
Song written by Ute Lemper.
Produced by Ute Lemper/ Todd Turkisher

Publisher: BMG
Label: jazzhouse records

Publication: Close-up Culture
Date: May 15, 2023

Iconic Chanteuse and dancer Ute Lemper joins us on Close-Up Culture to discuss her new album, Time Traveller.

Hi Ute, welcome to Close-Up Culture. I believe your journey to make your new album, Time Traveller, began some 23 years ago. What are your memories of writing this songs?

In the year 2000 I had just found new love with my partner Todd and started a new passage in life after a divorce and a few years in shows in the West End and on Broadway. I was touring with my album “Punishing Kiss” and was highly inspired to start writing songs myself. I was filled with ideas, lyrics, poetry and harmonies on my piano. Todd and I recorded the songs on a 16 track analog tape machine in his music studio in Chelsea. 2 years later we had switched to a protools set up and the old tapes disappeared for more than 20 years in the basement… until we discovered them again by coincidence.

Now a lifetime later, still together making and producing music, we had the old tapes carefully digitised and could not believe the originality of the old songs. By touching them up, partly re singing, partly keeping the youthful voice, blending old and new stories, laying a more contemporary sounding groove under it I suddenly found the inspiration to write music again.

The album shows a time warp, a wrinkle in time and a beautiful encounter with our younger selves, but at the end the new songs dominate as they express my more mature contemporary philosophy of life.

What was your journey like to make this album?

I wrote the new as much as the old songs on paper then at the piano, I play some keyboard and sing, then record a first version of the songs. After this core is identified we start producing, inviting musicians to play and programming some elements. I sing many harmony vocals , I love a wall of vocals, harmonised in a cool fashion. I learned to be a protools engineer and can execute edits and mixes myself and I love creating the work from scratch to a perfection. But the emotion of the track rules at the end.

What kind of experience can audiences expect from Time Traveller?

It is a mature adult contemporary poetic journey in a contemporary sound picture. The songs are sung intimately but also express great joy of life in accordance with beautiful thoughts about the quickly passing time.

I understand the opening title track is accompanied by a cutting edge video that uses AI. What can you reveal about this?

I asked a great team in Berlin to experiment with newest technology, so you see me in different ages walking through a hundred years of history in time.

What are your hopes for the album and the impact it has on audiences?

I hope to show that making music and creating new even cutting edge creations continues also for us older generations. We can still come up with something wonderful that can influence the younger generations and my attempt was to build a bridge from yesterday into tomorrow. The songs have a certain sensitivity that speaks of a lived life.

Click here to read article on Close-up Culture site.

Publication: /
By: Andrew Gesner
Date: May 15, 2023

Ute Lemper has cut revelatory versions of songs by many popular artists. “TIME TRAVELER” makes clear that it isn’t only the world that’s changing: we are, too.

In his science fiction classic The Time Machine, H.G. Wells describes the exhilarating (and terrifying) experience of watching the years flutter by like the pages of a flipbook. Moments significant and mundane blur together into a single story of perpetual change. “TIME TRAVELER,” the new video from German musical legend Ute Lemper, brings this vision to life in dazzling color and subtle but resonant strokes. While the singer tells her story from the picture window of her ship on the seas of time, the clock accelerates. Battlefields become temples, the wilderness is tamed and grows wild again, ordinary men morph into historical figures, and the earth itself seems to shiver under the weight of history.

It’s dramatic and fascinating to watch but also a metaphor for Lemper’s award-winning career. Through music, the vocalist has always bridged the distance between past and present – and she’s kept a keen eye on the future, too. Lemper has earned a reputation as one of the most formidable interpretive singers in the world, cutting revelatory versions of songs by Kurt Weill and Brecht, The Berlin Cabaret, Tom Waits, Philip Glass and Nick Cave, and many others. Her reanimation of the work of Edith Piaf revealed the cornerstone French singer to be an artist grounded in tradition but perpetually relevant. Lemper’s imaginative performances in musical theater — The Blue Angel, Peter Pan, Cabaret, and Chicago, to name a few of the shows she’s starred in — have established her as a cornerstone of the European stage and Broadway.

“TIME TRAVELER,” too, feels simultaneously contemporary, anticipatory, and rooted in the classics. This is a sophisticated jazz-pop sung written by the artist herself, an impeccable vocalist — but it’s also playful, and its starry-eyed lyrical hook will resonate with romantics of all kinds. And as the clip for “TIME TRAVELER” makes clear, it isn’t only the world around us that’s changing: we’re changing, too. The video shows us a version of Ute Lemper unshackled by time. Sometimes we’re shown the youthful Lemper who scaled the walls of contemporary theater with her dazzling talent, sometimes we get the current masterful Lemper, and sometimes we see the artist in transition, growing into her next challenge. The continuity is visible, and the message is clear. Time can’t lay a glove on her. No matter where she’s been or who she’s portrayed, she’s always been her brilliant self.

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Andrew Gesner
HIP Video Promo
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See original article online here.