Crossover jazz temptress Ute Lemper is determined to throw a wrecking ball through the boredom of 2023 in the form of “In My Flame” which is available everywhere neo-soul and jazz music is sold and streamed this fall alongside a music video for the track.
The surreal, almost psychedelic video features imagery that pushes the boundaries of her genre, but there’s nothing druggy or pendulous about what she has done with this lofty number. This is a focused, crisp take on the composition that brings Lemper to the attention of critics and audiences around the world once more, and its imaginative design wasn’t made for the radio alone. “In My Flame” is just the radiant burst of life we needed to start the season with, and it bolsters its creator’s status as excellent an player in her own right wonderfully.
Much like the silver-clad melody that serves as the star of the music video for this single, it’s hard for anyone who gets into its grooves to resist the urge to sway with them on the spot. The tempo invites even the most dedicated of wallflowers to succumb to its beat, which mirrors the catharsis of Lemper’s vocals and mercifully relieves the tension created by the harmony. The drums themselves aren’t as hostile as I was expecting, but they’re far from docile elements in the arrangement. They relentlessly add warmth to the track, directing their patter at each other rather than at the fluidity of the vocals.
There’s so much color in the harmonies that one could make the argument that they’re as big a texture in the song as the drums and Lemper’s vocal is on its own. I don’t know why, but every time I listen to this single I feel like I’m peeling back another layer, which invites a sensibility both primitive and raucous in contrast to the structure here. We get the impression from the get-go that the harmonies are supposed to be a key point in the song’s edifice, but they cryptically avoid being the center of attention when it feels like we’re about to be washed away by their tempo. You could call it progressive by nature if you wanted, but I think that would be too dismissive of how original a model this artist conceived in the mixing of this single.
Ute Lemper continues to show us in her recent work that the dynamic voice she possesses has absolutely no stylistic limits, and with “In My Flame” she adds soul to her growing list of conquered genres. It might be asking a lot, but I would love to see some future content similar to this song. Her work has flexible bones that could be retooled for almost any occasion, and that isn’t just an uncommon attribute in the contemporary scene, it’s a straight-up gift to be cherished. This single requires listening for the jazz, soul, and balladic vocal pop crowd that can’t get enough of a good melody when they come across one, and it promises to widen the scope of Lemper’s target audience considerably if given the right platform to impart its rich harmonies.
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