Barb Jungr: Walking In The Sun (2006)
The UK, for whatever reason, has in recent years developed its own treasure trove of jazz vocalists that most favorably compare with any in the world. The foremost female among these is Barb Jungr, whose prior releases have seen her tackle Dylan, Brel and Elvis with stunning results. She is able to add new depth through sparse, mood-evoking arrangements to known tunes with a style that owes much to her early musical diet of Northern British soul combined with jazz and cabaret. With a voice and attitude that is custom-made for "cool blues, Walking in the Sun finds Jungr pooling her talents to deliciously convey a myriad of emotions with each sung syllable.
She begins by elegantly merging her sultriness with the eerie machismo of the original to turn "Who Do You Love? into a distinctively feminine query. Bassist Steve Watts, pianist Jenny Carr and the soulful organist Jessica Lauren freeze you in your tracks as they find the blues in Dylan's "Trouble in Mind, before Lauren turns to harmonica when she and Jungr deftly pay homage to "Blind Willie McTell. Jungr's originals, "Beautiful Life and "Drink Me Up, suit the agenda well; the former provides lovely respite with its uplifting take on life's wonders, and the latter celebrates blueswomen everywhere with its stylish use of piano, organ and Jungr's distinctive phrasing.
The interesting juxtaposition of a gospel-tinged "Walking in Memphis with Jeff Barry's equally spiritual "Walking in the Sun, beautifully conveyed by cellist Gabriella Swallow, makes for an inspirational foray into the blues' flip side. Jungr and Carr partner on the great bluesman Brownie McGhee's "Rainy Day for a starkly emotional presentation, before the bluesy humor of Jimmy Reed's "Take out Some Insurance brings a smile to the previous pathos.
Harmonies reminiscent of Sweet Honey in the Rock are united with Randy Newman's "God Song and the traditional "Run on for a Long Time as Jungr, Carr and Lauren form a vocal trio, leading into a uniquely percussive and personal take on Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross, where Jungr sings with drummer Roy Dodds. Eric Bibb uses his guitar to add bluesy coloration throughout, and his rhythmical "Heading Home sets the stage for Carole King's divine closer, "Way Over Yonder. In this program that joins the blues with gospel, Jungr has again come up with a winning formula.
Track Listing: 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 Song; Blind Willie McTell; Many Rivers to Cross; Heading Home; Way Over Yonder.
Personnel: Barb Jungr: vocals; Jenny Carr: piano; Jessica Lauren: organ, bass piano and harmonicas; Steve Watts: bass; Roy Dodds: percussion; Gabriella Swallow: cello; Eric Bibb: guitars; Barb Jungr, Jenny Carr, Jessica Lauren: backing vocals.