Barb Jungr, 606 Club, London
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Monday 14 January 2013
Barb Jungr’s applies a jazz singer’s art to the extraordinary lyrics which have filled rock and soul albums of the last, post-Dylan half-century.
The provoking title of her album The Men I Love: The New American Songbook (2010) threw open the locked door of jazz standards to include David Byrne, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young (it’s a North American, Canadian-heavy songbook now), helping make Jungr a transatlantic jazz and cabaret star. As this evening in an intimate basement club shows, that’s down to the singer, not just the songs.
Jungr treads the fertile border between jazz and soul on new album Stockport to Memphis, including five of her songs. The title track is a theme tune to an English jazz life, and “New Life” casts her as a version of Billy Liar’s Liz, the Northern girl hungry for life who does go to London, and anywhere else she can reach. The autobiography can be challengingly specific: “Sunset to Break Your Heart” is “for anybody who went to the Isle of Skye for a camping holiday - and then divorced.” “When I think about it now, I want it much more,” she sings wistfully of young, lost love.
Simon Wallace and Jenny Carr back her on piano and keyboards. The piano melody of Jungr’s “Urban Fox” has rolling Nick Drake richness. Then there’s Hank Williams’ “Lost On the River”, notes picked out in mournful isolation, Jungr’s voice a broken caress, biting the word “life” bitterly. Her art lets words sink directly in, as with Mike Scott’s “Fisherman’s Blues”, sung with suppressed soaring, a wish for love made with quiet passion.
Jungr’s way of earthing the sometimes phantasmagoric fancies of her chosen singer-songwriters deposits the Devil of Tom Waits’ “WayDown in the Hole” among the abandoned warehouses and prim gardens outside this Chelsea club, but only punctures The Zombies’ gender-switched “He’s Not There”.
The vitality she brings to jazz can be better heard in Cohen’s “Everybody Knows”. Leaning against the piano like it’s a lamppost, she catches the song’s humour, and its apocalyptic sense of an unjust, uncertain present. Sam Cooke’s “Change is Gonna Come” finishes that thought: a series of Biblical scenes of rejection in which Jungr hangs on each hard phrase - “knocked me back”, “to my knees” - willing change here in Britain, now. She makes songs breathe.
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Games of Thrones actor Lena Headey makes emotional promise to her unborn daughter
- 2 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
- 5 Picture of couple posing with beached dolphin 'that later died' causes outrage
Eurovision 2015: Graham Norton returns with another cutting commentary - his best lines
Eurovision 2015: The best moments from Australia's random entry to Lithuania's gay kiss
Clarkson, Hammond and May Live: Top Gear trio returns with a blend of fireworks, AC/DC and 'automotive pornography'
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland