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Ute Lemper’s “Time Traveler”  

The sensuous sounds of a fleeting jazz undertow come cascading from our stereo speakers in the first few bars of Ute Lemper’s new single “Time Traveler,” and though unassuming and simplistic at the onset of the song, it doesn’t take very long for the melody that they’re producing to evolve into an all-out carnival of gripping grooves that will wrap their arms around us in a bittersweet embrace. Lemper’s voice slips through the minuscule sonic gaps between the bass and the treble-soaked percussion and soon finds the perfect spot in the mix to perch itself and drive its colorful harmony into our hearts.

“Time Traveler” takes its name from the unproven but much-discussed concept of unconventional ventures through the ages, and ironically, it serves to elevate its singer to an equally royal status in the pop/jazz scene of 2023.   In the opening stanza of the song, the vocal track is all that we can focus on, and that’s no minor statement when you take into consideration just how mammoth the instrumental melodies are in the background.

There’s an atmospheric glow in the mix of the backing track that allows for the music to feel a lot more natural and unvarnished in comparison to what we find in most voice-oriented pop singles, and I would even say that the structure of the lyrics makes “Time Traveler” a bit more postmodern than anything else playing in your local nightclub at the moment. She’s experimenting with her vocal range in this song, but avoiding the pitfalls that come with overindulgence masterfully.

When we come upon the chorus of this single, all of the stinging tension that builds in the verses leading up to it suddenly reaches its climax in an unadulterated vocal flex by Lemper. We not only see just how unwavering her musical chops are here, but we get a glimpse into what could be a very fascinating direction that her sound might take in the future. She’s flirting with shades of an iconic blend of cool jazz in this song, but binding them together with an undeniably melodic sway that is rooted in classic vocal pop as well. If the swagger that she’s got in this single is representative of what she brings to her live performances, then I hope to see her hitting the road for an international tour before the year is out.  

“Time Traveler” slips into the darkness from which it came roaring out in a tizzy of crashing drumbeats and lacy lines executed with a show-stopping melodicism from the vocal track, and while it’s a somewhat short song in comparison to what it initially feels like it could be, it’s not lacking in substance by any measure. With more time, experience, and the right influences in her life, this artist could become one of the more interesting stories to unfold in the modern jazz underground this year, and you can bet everything you’ve got that I’ll be keeping a close eye on her career as she continues to make stunning new music.  

Mindy McCall  



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