With Ute Lemper, more than almost any other artist I can name, you never know what you’re going to get. She burst onto the scene with stunning interpretations of the Kurt Weill songbook. She was London’s first Velma (Wilma?) Kelly in the Chicago revival (which she subsequently played in New York and Las Vegas). She’s can be a stunning cabaret diva in a post-modern Dietriech way. Or she can be a Euro-pop diva.
Her formidable talent as an artist is very clear. She obviously works from a place of passion, supported by dexterous vocals and a supple intelligence.
The current incarnation has Lemper playing singer/songwriter – kind of Lotte Lenya crossed with Joan Baez. in her new CD Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, the music feels Euro-pop and the lyrics have a nice agit-prop feel. Of course she explores larger issues – nuclear testing, nationalism, the Berlin Wall, and September 11th. The things most of us think about in the shower.
This is not easy listening, although I’ve found it pleasant music to cook to. For Lemper’s many talents, she is not the most obvious performer, so the material takes a little getting at. And the lyrics are by someone who is obviously not a native speaker of English, so certain lyrics inspire “That’s an interesting way of putting it” or “What”? (Of course, let’s not forget that Irving Berlin wasn’t a native speaker of English.) In addition, there are songs with lyrics in French and Japanese, an accomplishment I would deem taihen formidable!
Here’s the track list:
|1. Greatest Ride||Listen|
|2. Stranger Friend||Listen|
|3. Blood and Feathers||Listen|
|4. Luna – Ute Lemper,||Listen|
|5. Ghosts of Berlin||Listen|
|6. Mémoire et La Mer|
|7. Wings of Desire||Listen|
|9. Here Is Love||Listen|
|11. September Mourn||Listen|