Lancashire lass Barb Jungr – who started out in the early 80s as a member of Island-signed alt.pop vocal trio The Three Courgettes – has carved her own niche in the music biz. It’s a place that’s not jazz, blues or pop, but somewhere tantalisingly and indescribably in between. What she does defies categorisation, but some people classify her – erroneously in our opinion – as a cabaret singer.
While that definition acknowledges the inherent drama of Jungr’s performances – especially her stage shows – it does a gross disservice to her uniqueness as a song stylist. After reaping acclaim with her last album, Man In The Long Black Coat: Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan, this new 13-track set blends self-written autobiographical-themed songs with ear-opening deconstructions of songs by the Joni Mitchell (River), Neil Young (Old Man), Sam Cooke (A Change Is Gonna Come), Bob Dylan (Lay Lady Lay) and others. The album reveals that, in Jungr’s repertoire, there are no straight, note-for-note covers: every song she touches is transformed completely and refashioned to reflect her own psyche and life experiences. Jungr is at her spellbinding best on the album’s closer, an eerie rendition of Tom Waits’ Way Down In The Hole, which crackles with an irresistible existential drama.