Barb Jungr: Best of

What’s wrong with just singing the melody? This is the curse of the club-singer, exemplified by Barb Jungr. Every song becomes a vehicle for a technical display of vocal gymnastics that loses the essence of the original song.

That’s not to say Jungr doesn’t have a decent voice. She’s certainly got a powerful set of lungs and an impressive dynamic range. However, desperate to make every song her own, she plays around with melodies so they’re unrecognisable and she suffers a propensity for ending each song with an unnecessary display of scales and runs. When she does stick to the melody, it allows the music to breathe, but otherwise it is stifled by riffs and licks. She may joke that she is an ‘athlete of the small muscle’ but this athleticism comes at the expense of musicality. With a voice full of vocal tics, bizarre pronunciation, a breathy upper register that frequently cracks and a nasal vibrato, Jungr is stuck in a rut of bad habits.

Her single Fringe set consisted of a selection of crowd-pleasing classics by the likes of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Nina Simone, but her jazz arrangements paled in comparison to the originals. Opening with Mark Cohn’s ‘Walking In Memphis’, she ruined the melody. Later, a slow ballad version of The Monkees’ ‘I’m A Believer’ sucked all the joy out of the song, whilst a cover of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ lacked intensity.

What’s more, Jungr over-presents each song. Every number was performed with a grin (no matter how emotional the lyrics), knowing nods to the audience and words acted out with facial expressions and hand gestures. In her hands, every song becomes a comedy number, though with her dry wit and funny quips between songs she has a promising career as a stand-up.

Two encores and a standing-ovation later, Jungr is obviously a firm audience favourite. Certainly an all-round entertainer, her delivery is full of energy and her slick professionalism is to be commended. Personally, though, I’d take the originals over Jungr’s covers any day.

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The Blurb

Barb presents favourites by Jaques Brel, Nina Simone, Jimmy Webb and Leonard Cohen plus songs from her hugely acclaimed Bob Dylan show. ‘One of the very best nightclub singers in the world’ (TimeOut, NYC).

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