An exotic tone that is reminiscent of the sounds of a land far away ushers us into a chic bassline that seems intent on infecting us with its unhesitant march. The drums enter the fold, and while they’re not abrasive nor full of reckless abandon, they’re kept from running too close to the straight and narrow by the boisterous low-end in the ensuing melody.
Ute Lemper starts to sing in her honey sweet voice, and suddenly an air of unrestricted sexuality washes over every inch of sonic intensity penetrating our speakers. In her new single “Time Traveler,” the rising jazz star pulls out all of the big guns and riddles a simple harmony with vivacious textures that are as moving and evocative as anything that you would find in a museum of fine art, but don’t be fooled by this song’s multidimensional sonic profile. It’s a far cry from the trite, inaccessibly surreal nattering that has overwhelmed contemporary jazz with pointless experimentation, and yet it ferociously breaks away from the conventional with an urbane stylization that is bound to keep Ute Lemper’s name in the headlines as we head into summer.
“Time Traveler” is slickly produced, but none of the natural tonality in our lead singer’s voice is sacrificed in the construction of this unbelievably catchy hook. There’s a layer of pulsating percussion that separates Lemper’s vocal from the brazen bassline, and to some extent, it helps to define the tension in the lyrics in a way that doesn’t interrupt the fluidity of the verses in the least.
On the one hand, the harmonies that are shadowing every lyrical emission from Lemper are volatile, uncompromising, and seemingly ready to pounce on us around every twist and turn that the song has in store for us.
However, on the other hand, nothing is going on behind the soundboard to prevent the words from capturing the lion’s share of our affections from the very second that they subtly start ripping through the intimidating structure of the intro. There’s nothing to get between the artist and audience in this single, and that’s something that just can’t be said of the bulk of output that we’ve seen from her peers in 2023.
Ute Lemper has been on quite a whirlwind trajectory toward superstardom since the release of her debut not long ago, and from where I sit, “Time Traveler” is only adding fuel to an already incinerating wildfire. There’s too much passion, too much heart, and too much attention to detail for anyone to dismiss what this vibrant songwriter is doing in and out of the studio at the moment, and while we’re gearing up to see some ambitious releases this year, I have a feeling that this is going to stand out as one of the more solid singles cut in the jazz genre. It’s mobile enough to keep us quite stimulated, but its surreal, multifaceted approach to its stately harmonies appeals to a much more discriminating group of music fans who have been waiting for a singer of this caliber to come around for a long time now.