Barb Jungr - Love Me Tender - Time Out

Jungr is an artist who defies easy categorisation. She's been described as "alt.cabaret" or "politicised chanson", but it's a bit more complex than that. Like her great heroine Nina Simone, Jungr makes grown-up music that falls in the space between jazz and pop. She calls her art "song styling" and that is exactly what she does - re-styles songs, deconstructing and re-harmonising them, taking tracks we are familiar with and inviting us to listen again.

She follows up albums of Brel and Dylan covers with "Love Me Tender", her take on the bloated legacy of Elvis Presley. "He's iconic", says Jungr, "a wonderful singer with an amazing body of work, but he's a bit like Billie Holiday - you're not allowed to be critical. I wanted to look at Elvis the "non-saint" as well as the nature of songs from the '50s - all that post-war optimism and tin pan alley sweetness".

Jungr re-examines the songs through twenty-first century glasses - her slow, bleak but strangely beautiful versions finding a sadness and weirdness in Presley's best-known songs. "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" becomes a ghost's lament and "Love Me Tender" an obsessive's dark song. Her genius is that she removes the Americana, creating instead a sort of European art music noir. Simply arranged by arranger Adrian York's piano, nothing stands between the listener and the song. With Jungr's pure, quirky, powerful voice to guide you, you'll find a depth in these songs never previously imagined.

Time Out
21 April 2005