Ute Lemper's last Decca album—Punishing Kiss, in 2000, featuring songs by Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Nick Cave, and Scott Walker—was a brave, artful attempt to break out of her avant-cab

Ute Lemper's last Decca album—Punishing Kiss, in 2000, featuring songs by Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Nick Cave, and Scott Walker—was a brave, artful attempt to break out of her avant-cabaret world into something wider and wilder. This new, thoughtfully produced collection is perhaps even braver, as it sees the theatrical German chanteuse developing a new, more personal pop sensibility; along with updated arrangements of classics by Bertolt Brecht/ Kurt Weill, Brecht/Hanns Eisler, Astor Piazzolla, and Jacques Brel, there are four songs written by Lemper herself. The highlights here include Brecht/ Eisler's "Ballad of Marie Sanders," from 1938, and Lemper's captivatingly melodious "Lena" (featuring violin obliggato by Laurie Anderson), each songs of souls damaged by the past century yet sounding beautifully, if also terribly, contemporary.—BB

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