Barb Jungr - live at Metropolitan Room, NY - Wolf Entertainment Guide

Singer Barb Jungr's reputation continues to grow, as evidenced by her hot new show at the Metropolitan Room (eight performances between Sept. 4-20, 2008). This time around her theme is "I Got Life: A Hymn to Nina Simone." Most, but not all of the numbers, are songs that were sung by Simone, but Jungr is not one for impersonations. She makes each number decidedly her own.

There is also a charm factor at work. Jungr wraps her songs with anecdotes that define them, and this enables her to establish a remarkable rapport with her audience. When she successfully delivers a number it solidifies the connection. Her anecdotes get an abundance of knowing laughter, and, for example, she'll take time to build carefully to a punch line such as twitting Barry Manilow.

Jungr jokes about her choice of melancholy works, but some of these achieve her most delicate expression. Her rendition of Chip Taylor's "Angel of the Morning" is mesmerizing. She shows her range with Van McCoy's "Break Down and Let It All Hang Out," starting with a plaintive cry and exploding into a show of strength.

I liked her moody offering of James H. Shelton's "Lilac Wine," followed by the softly sexy rendition of Bob Dylan's "I'll be Your Baby Tonight," for which her superb pianist Charles Giordano switched to an accordion accompaniment. He used the accordion again when Jungr effectively interpreted "Chansons des Vieux Amants" by Jacques Brel and Gérard Jouannest.

One particular delight was her imagining the setting for Dylan's "The Man in the Long Black Coat" as a situation in which a young village girl would toss all caution to the winds and take off with such a guy when he appeared. When she sang, there was an extra edge as a result of the introduction.

An example of how Jungr can make songs her own was further illustrated by how she handled numbers form "Hair." She took "Ain't Got No" and "I Got Life" and sung them in a bravura manner different from any way I'd heard them performed before.

When she got to "Feeling Good" (by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley) in her repertoire, she worked up to a stunning crescendo, continuing to sing and gesture as she dramatically walked away from the stage through the applauding audience. Here again, she had given the song a special meaning with an introduction talking about concern for the environment.

Not enough can be said about how gently melodic her voice can be, in contrast to the robust quality she can achieve when she wishes to open up full force. Jungr has been a knockout before, but she is particularly accomplished in her current stint.

16 September 2008