Related Reviews
This Is Cabaret
'Clearly, there is nothing this woman cannot sing. Perfectly'
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nuvo.net
Live Review: 'She is simply, yet radiantly, a singer'
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Nightlife Exchange
'There are many highlights and surprises in this profoundly original approach to Dylan.'
more >>
Cover Me Songs
'A dusky gem.'
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GQ
'...the best album I've heard.'
more >>
Broadway World
'Jungr doesn't just interpret Dylan songs, she re-imagines them'
more >>
I heart the road
'Her voice is pure and holds that languid quality that have jettisoned stars like Colbie Caillat to Lana Del Rey to the top in recent years.'
more >>
New York Theater Examiner
'The arrangements and interpretations are unique and lovely, heart wrenching, funny and satirical'
more >>
The Examiner
'This gal is a most unique experience you'd want to have.'
more >>
The Times
4 Stars
'[Barb] teases out every nuance in a Dylan lyric as she reshapes it to her own ends.'
more >>
Halesowen news
"...Barb is at her most affecting..."
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Theater Scene
Cabaret Roundup: Best of 2011: "Her performances have become iconic."
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John Shelton Ivany Top 21
'One of the greatest albums of the year.'
more >>
NY Theatre Wire
'...Jungr's inspired interpretations of Dylan's songs make her performance electrifying.'
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The Martin Report
"...she has emerged as one part educator, one part icon"
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Times Square Chronicles
'A righteous revelation'
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Times Square Chronicles
"...Jungr doesn't just interpret 13 Dylan classics, she re-imagines them"
more >>
Woman Around Town
'Barb's enthralling'
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Cabaret Scenes
"Jungr knocks it out of the park..."
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Cabaret Confessional
She is dazzling...a phenomenal master song interpreter and stylist.
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NY Culture
"...the most significant vocal album of the 21st century thus far"
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Wall Street Journal
"She sings with a passion and tenderness that not even Mr. Dylan himself could have imagined"
more >>
Wolf Entertainment Guide
'It is exciting to savor what Jungr does with Dylan"
more >>
New York Post
"Bob Dylan's songs are a-changin' when Barb Jungr tries them on."
more >>
New York Times
"Barb Jungr delivered a fiery personal tutorial on Mr. Dylan"
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Cabaret Scenes
'At full throttle, she's enthralling.'
more >>
The Village Voice
Bob Dylan Gets The British Female Treatment! Fab!
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remotegoat.co.uk
5 Stars
'...Barb Jungr who eclipses them all.'
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Liverpool Daily Post
'She is a brilliant interpreter of contemporary songs.'
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Liverpool Echo
'A CD landed on my desk that I just couldn’t stop playing...'
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threeweeks.co.uk
'Barb Jungr was joined on stage by Simon Wallace on the keys in an absolutely captivating cover of Bob Dylan.'
more >>
Dark Chat
4½ Stars
'No-one should be surprised by her ability to inhabit a song and turn a perennial favourite upside down and inside out with a great arrangement...'
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The Independent
4 Stars
"Except for Dylan himself on a good night, this is the best way to hear his songs."
more >>
TimeOut London
'...one of the strongest voices in international cabaret performance.'
more >>
The American
"What Jungr brings to the songs is a forensic skill at unpacking the poetry married to great musicianship."
more >>
Jazzwise
"If you've yet to enter Barb Jungr's musical universe, then this paean to Dylan is just about the perfect place to start."
more >>
Record Collector
5 Stars
"...her own voice and delivery is unique..."
more >>
The British Theatre Guide
'...imagine a smoky, powerful, jazzy, gospel mix...'
more >>
O's Place Jazz Magazine
'When she hits it right, Jungr strikes gold.'
more >>
Herald Scotland
'Jungr sings Dylan's words quite beautifully, which the man himself, well, can't.'
more >>
Choice Magazine
'...proving not just what gifted interpreted Barb Jungr is, but the timeless, infinitely malleable, nature of the songs themselves.'
more >>
The Sunday Times
4 Stars
'...the musicianship is never less than first-rate.'
more >>
The Independent
"her deconstructed jazz takes...allow new slants to seep into the songs"
more >>
Cabaret Confessional
'...superb interpretations that deliver every song's story in the most unexpect ways.'
more >>
BBC Online
"As a Dylan interpreter, Jungr is right up there with Simone or The Byrds."
more >>
6moons.com
Blue Moon Award: '...[Barb] found new and unexplored depth.'
more >>
Slipped Disc (Norman Lebrecht's Blog)
'Far better to sample Barb Jungr’s sophisticated re-interpretations of Dylan classics, with supple vocal and sensitive instrumentation.'
more >>
In Tune
...warmhearted celebration
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London Jazz
...a delicious mixture of tones and colours
more >>
Girl Singers
"...this recording takes Dylan's work to some surprising new places, and is very highly recommended."
more >>
Record Collector
'So persuasively did Jungr inhabit the songs that...one entertained the thought that she might have understood them better than their author.'
more >>
The Stage
'...never ceases to amaze.'
more >>
The Telegraph
4 Stars
"Communicating real, heart-felt emotion is what this cabaret singer is all about."
more >>

Barb Jungr - Man in the Long Black Coat - The Art of the Torch Singer


03 October 2011
The Art of the Torch Singer
Jo Birchall

There are three elders at the top of the tree when it comes to British female singers who have an instinctive ability to tell the whole story in a song: Norma Waterson, June Tabor and Barb Jungr. Forget any ungallant connotations. I use the word simply to connote wisdom and an almost forensic approach to their craft. If Waterson is the benevolent earth mother, Tabor is the cool, all-seeing and often bleak eye at the centre of life's storm. Jungr, on the other hand, hurls herself into the maelstrom, seeking the key to the most visceral experiences in the songs and chansons of the great modern songwriters and rendering them into compelling dramas for the listener.

This summer saw the simultaneous release of two albums from Jungr. Strictly speaking, neither is actually ‘new'. Man in the Long Black Coat is a compilation of Bob Dylan recordings made since her groundbreaking 2002 set, Every Grain of Sand, with the bonus of four additional songs laid down in the studio at the start of this year. Durga Rising is the reissue of her 1997 collaboration with renowned Asian music producer Kuljit Bhamra and Jungr's late, and much-missed, accompanist Russell Churney. Between them, these very different pieces of work showcase an unstinting commitment to innovation and exploration that runs like seams of resilient, glistening black jet through her finest interpretations. Why this important British singer is still waiting to make an appearance on Later... with Jools Holland is a mystery.

Some people have hailed Man in the Long Black Coat as Jungr's best album yet. And there is certainly a holistic feel to the album; much of this possibly comes from the sense of a ‘journey', in which Jungr is getting closer and closer to crystallising exactly what Dylan's lyrics mean to her. In doing so, she becomes increasingly agile with the possibilities and nuances that they offer.

The four most recent tracks - the title track with its ominous, funereal bell, "It Ain't Me Babe", the bitter, ironic "With God on Our Side", and the sublime "Sara" - were all arranged and recorded with pianist Jenny Carr. They reveal a singer at her peak, brimming with confidence in the material. Dylan purists will no doubt perceive liberties being taken. Let them get on with it. There's an audacity and boldness about these reinvented classics that is rooted in Jungr's sense of freedom in the world she discovers through them.

From the up tempo "The Times They Are A-Changin'" to the reggae beat of "Just Like a Woman", a spacey treatment of "Like a Rolling Stone" and the bluesy "High Water", Jungr pursues the truth in the lyrics with a spirit of adventure and a musicality that is always intriguing. Who else could dream of giving "Blind Willie McTell" the feel of a chanson and make it work with such flair?

"Willie McTell" also turns up in a different, more subdued version on Durga Rising. This album, sub-titled ‘An Indo-Jazz Adventure' is a cornucopia of human experience; bhangra beats meet midnight soul. Jungr and Bhamra have taken it on the road recently, now with exemplary pianist Simon Wallace, to great acclaim.

Jungr's natural territory is pain and darkness, but she can also spin tails of dizzying happiness. Both extremes are here in a collection of almost entirely self-penned lyrics (Dylan aside), and the music of Bhamra, Churney and her old partner-in-song Michael Parker.

Bhamra's percussion is ethereal and fleet-fingered, working with Jungr's vocals in contrapuntal sequences that shimmer with energy. When things get dark, they get really dark. "How Could I Ever", "Tears in a Bottle" and the lascerating, end-of-the-affair piece of advice, "Choose to be Alone", offer delicious degrees of cynicism. So do the apocalyptic overtones of "Crimes Against Nature". But there are plenty of lighter textures in the music, and the exhilarating, life affirming romance of "Bombay Dreaming" - a latin-ish, retro dance hall number - is balm for the most jaded spirit.


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