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Barb Jungr - Waterloo Sunset - Jazz Review

05 April 2004
Jazz Review
Chris Parker

Having established herself as one of the most original and intelligent interpreters of a lyric on the contemporary scene with her highly individual takes on Brel (Chanson The Space In Between) and Dylan (Every Grain Of Sand), Barb Jungr has cast her net wider on this, her third Linn CD.

Interspersed with her affecting, thought-provoking originals, and a couple of visits to her beloved Dylan, are skilfully selected songs by everyone from Ray Davies and Steve Miller to Leon Russell, the Everly Brothers and Richard Thompson. Her version of 'Like A Rolling Stone' replaces the original's splenetic, amphetamine-fuelled howl with a gentle, probing approach, transforming the song's disturbing triumphalism into a sympathetic, almost psychoanalytic, enquiry. 'Cathy's Clown' - a song neatly representative of a more ingenuous age of songwriting, one that produced the likes of 'Hats Off To Larry', 'Little Town Flirt' and 'Running Scared' - is given a subtle veneer of ambiguity in a neat regendered version that flirts with Western swing. 'The Joker' explores the mask/clown motif that runs through the album; 'Waterloo Sunset' is tellingly arranged not only with a view to accentuating its achingly lovely melody, but also to emphasise the quietly joyous poignancy of its lyric.

Although less of an outright jazz singer than, say, Lea DeLaria, Jungr is unrivalled for her ability to inhabit a song's emotional world, and the combination of her subtly enquiring sensibility and pleasingly tremulous vocal timbre with the music of a neat, versatile, punchy band centred on the flawless Adrian York is, although most effective in her entrancing live shows, utterly beguiling on disc.

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