In his science fiction classic The Time Machine, H.G. Wells describes the exhilarating (and terrifying) experience of watching the years flutter by like the pages of a flipbook. Moments significant and mundane blur together into a single story of perpetual change. “TIME TRAVELER,” the new video from German musical legend Ute Lemper, brings this vision to life in dazzling color and subtle but resonant strokes. While the singer tells her story from the picture window of her ship on the seas of time, the clock accelerates. Battlefields become temples, the wilderness is tamed and grows wild again, ordinary men morph into historical figures, and the earth itself seems to shiver under the weight of history.
It’s dramatic and fascinating to watch but also a metaphor for Lemper’s award-winning career. Through music, the vocalist has always bridged the distance between past and present – and she’s kept a keen eye on the future, too. Lemper has earned a reputation as one of the most formidable interpretive singers in the world, cutting revelatory versions of songs by Kurt Weill and Brecht, The Berlin Cabaret, Tom Waits, Philip Glass and Nick Cave, and many others. Her reanimation of the work of Edith Piaf revealed the cornerstone French singer to be an artist grounded in tradition but perpetually relevant. Lemper’s imaginative performances in musical theater — The Blue Angel, Peter Pan, Cabaret, and Chicago, to name a few of the shows she’s starred in — have established her as a cornerstone of the European stage and Broadway.
“TIME TRAVELER,” too, feels simultaneously contemporary, anticipatory, and rooted in the classics. This is a sophisticated jazz-pop sung written by the artist herself, an impeccable vocalist — but it’s also playful, and its starry-eyed lyrical hook will resonate with romantics of all kinds. And as the clip for “TIME TRAVELER” makes clear, it isn’t only the world around us that’s changing: we’re changing, too. The video shows us a version of Ute Lemper unshackled by time. Sometimes we’re shown the youthful Lemper who scaled the walls of contemporary theater with her dazzling talent, sometimes we get the current masterful Lemper, and sometimes we see the artist in transition, growing into her next challenge. The continuity is visible, and the message is clear. Time can’t lay a glove on her. No matter where she’s been or who she’s portrayed, she’s always been her brilliant self.