Barb Jungr - Love Me Tender - The Stage

Barb Jungr is back to thrill us with her latest re-imagining of a familiar repertoire, rendering it anew in such a startlingly personal way that it is utterly reinvigorated - and her wide-ranging musical compass now alights on the repertoire on Elvis Presley. In this blazing show of songs from her latest album, here are Elvis standards like Are You Lonesome Tonight? and Love Me Tender as you have never heard them before: the first slowed down to a wistfully haunting lament that is speckled with Philip Glass-like repetitions of musical and lyrical phrases, the latter a yearning, heartfelt cry of the heart. But then nothing that Jungr does is ever obvious. She can be bold and fierce one minute, then fragile and desolate. She sets an evening comprising mainly of torch songs aflame with an alternately bruising and tender quality. A couple of songs by Bob Dylan - whose repertoire she has previously investigated more fully on a previous album - epitomises these contrasting notes: I Shall Be Released and Tomorrow is a Long Time (written specially for Presley by Dylan) are passionately embraced. If the musical tone of much of the programme is keen with forebodings and regret, Jungr has an irrepressible ability to lighten the mood between songs in her patter, which is full of wit and warmth. She has perfected a conversational tone that is ideal for cabaret, connecting the material to herself in a deeply personal way. At the end, she turns the entire audience into a gospel choir for Peace in the Valley that makes it personal to us, too.

The Stage
30 April 2005