Barb Jungr - Bob Dylan - Nightlife Exchange
Earlier in 2012, in commemoration of Amnesty International's 50 years of existence, a 4-disc Bob Dylan tribute was released. Some 70 artists were tapped to provide interpretations of Dylan songs. Knowns and unknowns in terms of artists and works, provided a broad overview of ways of approaching Dylan, who is by now the subject of more books, films and awards than possibly any living artist. And unsurprisingly, nowhere to be found in that vast horde of covers, many of which were shamelessly sloppy, were the exquisite stylings of Barb Jungr who embodies the musical intelligence and sensitivity of cabaret at its finest.
What Ms. Jungr brings to the table is a palpably fearless love of Dylan's music that allows her to re-contextualize many of Dylan's roaring growls and invest them with a subtlety and precision of enunciation and rhythmic articulation that escapes the vast bulk of Dylan's servile idolators. Ms. Jungr's jazzy, delicately driving phrasing, in combination with the bold rhythmic reworking of "Just Like A Woman," works wonders to re-vitalize this often-covered chestnut. In "Like A Rolling Stone," she imbues the tune with a reflective backdrop that nicely interrogates the more usual snarl of the piece. "Man in the Long Black Coat" is a brilliant mood piece that captures perfectly the sombre menace of the lyric with noir-ish expertise .
Ms. Jungr's version should amount to an object lesson in the art of the effective use of understatement that could profitably be studied by just about every singer on the aforementioned Amnesty International tribute . "It Ain't Me Babe" conveys worlds of heartbroken understanding, acceptance and resilience, musically rendered with a poignancy seldom encountered, even in the best of Dylan's songs. This is one of Ms. Jungr's most effective interpretations, in my judgement. In "Tomorrow Is A Long Time," one of Dylan's songs wrenched out of the heart of his youthful, tumultuous relationship with the late artist Suze Rotolo (who was pictured with Dylan on the cover of Freewheelin', walking the snow covered streets of Greenwhich Village), Ms.Jungr vocally embodies a depth of human need that marks this as the definitive interpretation of this tune.
"High Water Everywhere (For Charlie Patton)" shows Ms. Junger to be just as adept at interpreting the more recent, angry, bitter and death-obsessed Dylan, as she is the youthful love-afflicted poet. There are many highlights and surprises in this profoundly original approach to Dylan, all of whose fans and acolytes would do well to open themselves to Ms. Jungr.