Barb Jungr – Every Grain of Sand – Jazz Views website
Jungr's voice is smoky; her delivery is both relaxed and smooth. She might have been a candidate for the label ‘bland female singer, some polish but not entirely memorable'. Thankfully she has the additional gifts of pin-sharp interpretation, command of expression and an edge, which keeps the saccharine at bay. Add to this her knack of selecting songs to which she can add that certain ‘twist' and her albums become something seriously special.
Her album Waterloo Sunset contained two Dylan tracks. Every Grain of Sand is an album of fifteen more and is a creation where Dylan's compositions and Jungr's interpretation are so well matched that even die-hard Dylan fans will enjoy the synergy. This album matches Waterloo Sunset in quality and similarly is one that will be as fresh and enjoyable over time.
This production is enjoyable at several levels. Dylan fans, who know his work intimately, are likely to enjoy this album for the quality and new interpretations. Her rendering is faithful to his original intentions, even though the final product is different. Those unfamiliar with Dylan (under 30s and a few life long hermits) should enjoy the whole without prior experience; and, if then led to Dylan, might find that they prefer some of Jungr's versions. Similarly the album is enjoyable from the first listening, as it is instantly accessible, but because of the underlying complexities continues to be rewarding.
The first track ‘I'll be your baby tonight' is smooth and seductive with a touch of wistfulness. The simple piano backing from Simon Wallace is classic in its elegant understatement. The faster tempo of the third track 'Things have changed' is completely different; Kim Burton's accordion backing adds a well-balanced touch of the eerily eccentric.
The gospel based ‘Ring them bells' again with a piano accompaniment, is superlative. Here the lyrics add that bracing touch of vinegar. The following ‘Not dark yet' is shady. This is another creation that might have been written for Jungr. The combination of the clarity of her interpretation, her voice and the instrumental backing is pretty near perfect.
The classic ‘It's all over now baby blue' is the track where I feel she out-Dylans Dylan. Listen out in addition for some stupendous good cello and sax. The almost upbeat ‘Tangled up in blue' contains a few gender tangles but is another track that is unforgettable.
Jungr is one of the most talented current British female singers. I would still like to hear an album where she sings the blues - her voice and her interpretation would be perfect should that spirit ever move her. However I enjoyed every song on this album - and I can't remember the last time I could say that. I felt several tracks were too short - but was then surprised to find that some of these ran for over 4 minutes - a sure indication of enjoyment.
It is about time to start thinking of Christmas. I recommend this for your Christmas list, and also, because it is an accessible album with wide appeal, a purchase that should solve several of your present problems.