Barb Jungr - Love Me Tender -

In her latest Joe's Pub appearances, Barb Jungr - who can legitimately be labeled unique among cabaret performers - takes on the Elvis Presley Songbook.  Show's named after her "Love Me Tender" CD, but woe unto anyone who calls the program a tribute.  The North England native, now based in London a stone's through from the Thames, is not interested in anything as commonplace as a tribute.
Uh-uh.  Jungr's a philosopher of song.  She won't sing anything unless she has a response to a melody and lyric that comes from her probing mind and fervid heart.  Once she's decided she'll devote herself to an oeuvre - Jacques Brel and Bob Dylan are previous targets - she considers each selection for periods of time, even broods about it.  That's why when she does "Love Me Tender," it's only after she's discoursed on James Lee Burke novels and insisted she hears the Presley-Vera Matson chart-topper as an outcry by a Southern woman sitting in a one-horse town on a sultry summer night.  When she does "Kentucky Rain" (Eddie Rabbit-Dick Heard), she's talked amusingly about her familiarity from childhood on with inclement weather.  Although she's not interested in running Presley facts, she does suggest that the icon's often-assumed reliance on Colonel Tom Parker may not be so total, since it was Presley, she claims, who insisted on releasing the "political" "In the Ghetto" (Scott Davis).  Then she acts out the story of a young boy's tragic demise as if it were a James Dean flick.  Accompanist Charlie Giordano manfully keeps up with her.
Jungr, whose surname suggests the adjective "jugular," can rattle the rafters with her voice when she chooses.  She chose just that on the traditional "Peace in the Valley," suggesting by her reading that peace is only achieved as a result of angry activism.  Major talent here, folks.
30 April 2005