Thursday, May 10, 2012

British Cabaret Singer, Barb Jungr, Mines The Lyrics Of Songwriting Icons

Barb Jungr- "Man in the Long Black Coat"
The Metropolitan Room, New York City, N. Y., April 10-28, 2012

By E. Joyce Glasgow

Barb Jungr
(photo courtesy: Barb Jungr)

British vocalist, Barb Jungr,  has distinguished herself in her career as a cabaret singer by uncannily mining the lyrics of songwriting icons with depth, deliciously concentrated intensity and scrutiny, in a way that brings new life and meaning to popular songs we've lived with for decades.

She has interpreted, among others, the songs of Elvis Presley, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon and is celebrated for her performances of the French chansons of Jacques Brel.  In her most recent show, "Man in the Long Black Coat", performed April 10-28, 2012, at the Metropolitan Room, ( , NYC, she paid tribute to Bob Dylan, performing a 13 song set of his songs, in a duo, with Tracy Stark accompanying her on piano.

Jungr shows an all encompassing passion and love for her subject matter, enthralling and engaging her audiences with her unusual, charming, individual, fresh perspective and strong, poignant emotional expression.

Some of the especially memorable tunes of the evening included It Ain't Me Babe, The Times They Are A Changin', I Want You, Don't Think Twice, Sara, Like A Rolling Stone and Forever Young. Jungr punctuated her set with wonderful anecdotes about Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Dylan's ex-wife, Sara Lownds and musings on the songs' subjects, as well as surprising us with a couple of well played harmonica solos. One of the stories Jungr told was a very revealing account of what appeared to be a heartbreakingly lopsided aspect in the relationship between Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. When Joan Baez would perform she would generously invite Dylan out to play, introducing and featuring him to her audiences. Yet, on the other hand, Dylan asked Baez to travel with him on a European tour he was doing and while she waited in the wings with her guitar each night, he never once invited her on the stage to play and sing during any of his shows.

One of the distinctive features of Barb Jungr's stage performances, in the past, has been her dramatic, quirky, individual, distinctive, theatrical physical movements, which lent a certain excitement to her presentations and set her apart from other, less physically adventurous vocalists. I loved this physicality about her. In her Dylan show however, this element has disappeared, as Jungr was uncharacteristically planted firmly on a stool for the duration of the show. I don't know if this was an artistic choice based on the style of the songs she was performing or whether she has changed her performance style altogether. I missed this compelling quality of her past performances and felt  that, in this show, the static nature of her stage presentation was somewhat energetically limiting and I found her missing some of that physical fire that has been part of her greater signature power.

Barb Jungr, ((, 58, lives in London and performs internationally. She is also a composer, lyricist and writer. She performs regularly in New York City and has won awards including the 2008 NY Nightlife Award for Outstanding Cabaret Vocalist and the 2003 NY Backstage Award for Best International Artist. She has repeatedly been a top choice pick for her performances and CD's by Time Out New York magazine.