Ute Lemper,
But One Day...
(Decca, 2002)

It's January, it's frigid outside, the fire is crackling gently and the Remy Martin is gently making its golden way down your throat. This is a time to think deep thoughts and maybe listen to someone who can serve as a quiet backdrop to your mood. But One Day..., a recent CD by Ute Lemper, is an excellent choice. She is some woman -- able to adapt her voice and style to effortlessly merge herself into the style and sounds of Lulu, David Bowie, Liza Minelli, Bette Midler or whomever this chameleon chooses to be. Lemper is also able to sing in a variety of languages, including French and English, all nuanced with style and grace. Thus, whether she is singing a song by Jacques Brel or Kurt Weill or herself, she is able to bring a unique part of her muse to the process.

One of the reasons I have seldom heard Lemper sing before is that she is not a DEE-VA -- that is, a diva like Mariah Carey or Cher. Aretha Franklin IS a diva who has earned the title and its concurrent notoriety/respect. Thus, Lemper sings like the unique person she is, rather than using her voice as a means to an end or to achieve divinity. She writes much of her own music and makes the lyrics a part of this particular CD, which is good for those of us who aspire to diva status and lack the chops and the talent to do so. Singing is not just restricted to those who CAN sing!

Some of Lemper's songs include lyrics like those from her composition, "But One Day," whose lyrics include "But one day/I'm not gonna call you back/to ask you what's wrong/I'm not gonna care about this strange tone of uncertainty and distance in your voice anymore/I'm gonna be indifferent to it and fall out of love/Just like I fell into, sliding on to a different playground." Love is international, and so is heartbreak and moving on, all of which is poignantly demonstrated in this song and the others on this CD.

The voices and the emotions on this CD transcend the ordinary. Lemper has a rich voice which she uses to good effect on songs like "September Song" and "Ne Me Quittez Pas," both of which have been performed by others many times, and in many ways. That she is able to make the listener forget her competition is what makes one wish to listen to this CD on a regular basis, and to dive in for more of the grace notes that spring from Ute Lemper's heart. Pass the Remy Martin.

- Rambles
written by Ann Flynt
published 20 September 2003

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