Barb Jungr - Shelter From The Storm - R2

Barb Jungr's superb new album, which features, amongst others, the great American jazz pianist Laurence Hobgood, is subtitled Songs Of Hope For Troubled Times. The times be troubled indeed but many of the songs, rather than straightforwardly offering hope, are distinctly - and satisfyingly - ambiguous.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's ‘Bali Hai', for example, one of two songs from the Great American Songbook, holds out the promise of a paradise-on-earth but surely has a melancholic subtext; Bob Dylan's ‘Shelter From The Storm' initially seems to testify to the redemptive power of love but the lyrics finally convey regret at the failure of the relationship alluded to; and on Joni Mitchell's ‘Woodstock' the music joltingly undermines the lyrics' optimism.

And, never mind ambiguity, some of the songs are downright pessimistic. Dylan's ‘All Along The Watchtower' is surely full of dread while, although the meaning of David Bowie's peculiar, dizzyingly allusive ‘Life On Mars' is obscure, it's hard to detect anything positive in the lyrics.

So, Jungr may not provide much of the promised hope, but, characteristically, she sings with enormous intellectual and emotional clarity on a marvellously eclectic repertoire which also includes three literate originals.

01 March 2016