Barb Jungr is a very well known singer in her native England, where she’s had a lengthy career of performances and collaborations with numerous artists; most recently, she participated in the “Girl Talk” sessions with Claire Martin and Mari Wilson. She’s also become quite something of a musicologist, with a very keen interest in world music and she’s lectured extensively about singing and vocal performance. Her repertory is quite broad, encompassing diverse styles ranging from French chansons to cabaret, folk, gospel and blues. This superb disc from Linn Records features an eclectic mix of gospel and blues, as well as songs from artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Randy Newman and Carole King, and includes a couple of self-penned tunes as well. The resulting album has a very spiritual feel to it, and Barb Jungr finds a way to make just about every song in this stunning assortment her own.
Barb’s smoky-sweet alto is perfect here; on the disc’s opening track “Who Do You Love,” (popularized by George Thorogood’s raunch-n-roll version) she lends a very light vocal touch (almost a whisper), which theoretically seems totally wrong for this song, but she makes it just oh-so-right. The next track, Bob Dylan’s “Trouble In Mind,” opens with a sensationally smooth upright bass and finger-snapping intro, and segues into Barb’s spot-on vocal – this woman really knows how to sing the blues, and she can really belt it out as required. Jessica Lauren lends a lightly-played organ accompaniment that’s sheer perfection – one thing that’s evident from the start is how the vocal and instrumental textures are so perfectly arranged throughout this excellent disc. There are a few weak spots – I’m not particularly enamoured with Barb’s delivery of the Jimmy Cliff classic “Many Rivers To Cross,” but then I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve hit the replay button on her soulful delivery of Brownie McGhee’s “Rainy Day.” It’s one of those magical moments where everything worked perfectly, and the resulting sounds are irresistible.
The sound quality of this multichannel hybrid SACD is superb. All of my listening was done in the multichannel mode, and the instruments and voices are expertly placed in the recorded soundfield – this is a textbook example of how surround sound should be done right. Highly recommended.
Tracks: Who Do You Love?; Trouble In Mind; Beautiful Life; Drink Me Up; Walking In Memphis; Walking In The Sun; Rainy Day; Take Out Some Insurance; Run On For A Long Time/God’s Song; Blind Willie McTell; Many Rivers To Cross; Heading Home; Way Over Yonder.
— Tom Gibbs