Barb Jungr – Every Grain of Sand – Bebop Spoken Here
Barb Jungr's album of Bob Dylan songs is being reissued as a 15th-anniversary special edition, following its original widely acclaimed 2002 release. Apparently coincidental with Dylan's recent award of Nobel prize for Literature, her selection of songs, spanning 5 decades, is a timely reminder of his sustained productivity.
Dylan's distinctive style of delivery is not universally admired, but his songs are vocally invigorated by Jungr's combination of impeccable singing and the range of her emotional delivery, backed by a highly sympathetic, piano-led ensemble.
The album opens with 'I'll Be Your Baby Tonight' and 'If Not For You', but really kicks off in the third track with 'Things Have Changed', reimagined as a dramatic tango. Another highlight is 'Not Dark Yet', where the restrained accompaniment of accordion and cello underlines Jungr's sombre and melancholic vocal. Dylan has rarely sung anything without sounding cynical; in the original version of 'Forever Young', apparently simple tidings of encouragement are delivered with anger, as if he's singing about his own loss of innocence. But Jungr transforms it into a joyful hymn dedicated to the optimism of youth, with an up-beat Latin arrangement featuring percussion, accordion, and exuberant vocal improvisation. The only reference to blowing winds in this Dylan tribute is subtle, in the final and title track 'Every Grain of Sand', which starts and ends with a distant storm. The stripped back arrangement of accordion, strings and harmonica, with the lyric to the fore, gives a traditional folk feel. Although this is one of his later songs (1981), it's a reminder of Dylan's early days in New York, and of the influence of US and British folks musicians, as well as of the expressive quality of his writing.