Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ute Lemper

Ute Lemper’s dynamic new CD, Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, is a departure for the German-born singer, who is internationally known for her interpretations of Berlin cabaret songs, works of Kurt Weill and French chanson. This recording is unique among her 17 or so albums because she composed all of the songs as “a poetic journey through the world and through my life.”

With her dramatic voice ranging from husky to lilting, she performs 11 songs that are part story and part stream of consciousness, evoking faces, events, visions and personal philosophy.

“I turned around my own axis and life, cities and years passed by . . . like a movie,” she says in press notes. “Close ups on to people’s faces, places of poetry or doom and close ups into my own heart.”

Some songs are simple and personal, dealing with love and motherhood, others, such as “Ghosts of Berlin,” are more cinematic, dealing with her memories of a divided city during the Cold War. Those images “are so concretely frozen in my mind that it was already a poem only to be written down into music and words.”

Still others are even darker. “Nevada” is about nuclear bombs exploding in the desert in the 1950s and 60s and “September Mourn” about a day that started joyfully and excitedly getting her three children ready for their first day back at school and ended in unbelievable death and destruction. “The abuse in our souls and our minds was deep . . . the song still shivers and resonates in our subconscious,” she writes.

Her versatility and range can really be heard on “Nomad,” inspired by a journey she took through the Middle East. Using a 12th century Arabic poem about the highest purpose of religion, faith and love, the song includes the Arabic prolog and Hebrew epilog. Lemper calls it “a poem for humanity and tolerance.”

Lemper is backed by vibrant musical accompaniment -- Vana Gierig on piano, Mark Lambert on guitar, Todd Turkisher on drums and percussion, Don Falzone and Mo Pleasure on bass. They do much to help evoke the mood of the songs, whether breezy, exotic, sultry or wistful.

The complete song list is:

1. The Greatest Ride
2. Stranger Friend
3. Blood and Feathers
4. Luna
5. Ghosts of Berlin
6. La Memoire et laMer
7. Wings of Desire
8. Nomad
9. Here Is Love
10. Nevada
11. September Mourn

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