CD REVIEWS: Just Like a Woman (Hymn to Nina)

Barb Jungr - Just Like a Woman (Hymn to Nina)
Blues Matters Nov 08

Everyone will agree that Nina Simone had one of the most distinguishable voices in recording history. It takes a certain credibility to take on an album of Nina Simone songs, and she carries it off. Barb Jungr is not doing an imitation of Nina Simone, the songs are sung in her own style, but her breathy smooth approach is equally effortless. She is backed by fine musicians who keep to the background, yet are clearly immensely talented. Her different noirish takes on ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ and ‘Keeper of the Flame’ grab the attention as does her lonely lament combining ‘One Morning In May’ with ‘The Pusher’. Barb Jungr addresses complex tunes, makes them simple and smooth with a whisper and control that is a perfect compliment to her wish to engage the spirit of Nina Simone. (Gareth Hayes)

**** Barb Jungr – Just Like A Woman (Hymn to Nina) The Independent Review 14.3.2008
Having established her reputation through unusual interpretations of songwriters such as Jacques Brel and Bob Dylan, the vocal stylist Barb Jungr turns her attentions to Nina Simone. Ticking clock and groaning bass lend an air of lovelorn fatalism to the splendid ‘Lilac Wine’, and a grimly descending chord structure imposes a similarly bereft tone to her despairing ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’; but the most startling pieces here are the medleys in which Jungr infuses contemporary material with the darkling mystery of traditional folksong, most notably the alliance of ‘One Morning In May’ with the old Steppenwolf drug song ‘The Pusher’. Apart from a ‘Ballad of Hollis Brown’. Jungr’s Dylan interpretations are less convincing than might be expected, particularly the odd, jaunty ‘Times They Are A -Changin’’, but the up-tempo blues arrangement of ‘Feeling Good’ that closes the album is a vivid display of her subject’s balance of control and abandonment.

**** Barb Jungr: Just Like a Woman (Hymn to Nina) - the Sunday Times review (9.03.08)
After deconstructing Elvis, Dylan and Jacques Brel, the British singer pays homage to Nina Simone. Jungr being Jungr, nothing follows a conventional path in this oblique collection, which veers between gospel, folk, R&B and discreet jazz. She doesn’t go for obvious covers or try to compete with Simone’s idiosyncratic delivery – her voice is lighter and almost girlish. The real pleasure lies in the typically thoughtful juxtapositions of material. The bleak sentiments of The Pusher sit side by side with the pastoral cadences of One Morning in May, while Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood is unashamedly dark. Fans will be pleased that the Dylan quota remains high. (Clive Davis) Linn AKD309

**** Barb Jungr 'Just like a woman - hymn to Nina (The Independent) March 7, 2008
A vocal stylist acclaimed for her interpretations of Jacques Brel and Bob Dylan, Barb Jungr here turns her attention to Nina Simone, with an album drawn from the late pianist's repertoire. The most striking pieces may be the medleys with which Jungr brings a trad-folk tone to particularly the seamless seguing of 'One Morning in May' with the old Steppenwolf drug song 'The Pusher'....her 'Ballad of Hollis Brown', with the delicate madness of the piano part evoking the protagonist's descent into despair, is much more effective. It's all brought to a close with a rousing, exultant blues arrangement of 'Feeling Good' that pays true homage to Nina's feisty spirit. (Andy Gill)

Album of the Week - Barb Jungr ‘Just Like A Woman (Hymn to Nina)’, The Independent, 22.3.2008
Barb Jungr sold out a week of gigs at Ronnie Scott’s to launch this album of songs associated with Nina Simone. Her previous albums have made her the foremost interpreter of Bob Dylan’s back catalogue around, and there’s a trio of Zimmerman classics here, alongside ‘Llilac Wine’ and a wonderful, breathy ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’. Classy doesn’t begin to sum it up. (Tim Cumming)

Barb Jungr ‘Just Like A Woman (Hymn to Nina)’, Bluesart.at APRIL 2008
Barb Jungr is a UK based singer of Czech and German parentage who is renowned in the UK for her treatment of songs as songs, sometimes with jazz or blues inflections, sometimes not. What more natural then she should dedicate a set to songs associated with another unclassifiable but highly talented and respected singer, Nina Simone? So, Barb tackles the likes of folk songs, Bob Dylan numbers, the Bee Gee’s beautiful ‘To Love Somebody’ (also recorded by James Carr), ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ – known to many from the Yardbirds, I would hazard a guess – and the sublime reworking of ‘Angel of The Morning’, and she makes each her own whilst maintaining the homage. Backing is courtesy of a stellar group drawn from the UK jazz scene, rounding off what is indeed a very classy package – and by no stretch of the imagination is this a jazz album, or a blues recording come to that. Having written that though, ‘Feeling Good’ does have all the enthusiasm and excitement of a sixties beat group performance. But try the reggae-inflected rendition of Dylan’s ‘Just Like A Woman’ for something different – or just try any of the eleven tracks. Too often tributes are over-respectful and over-reverent, but Barb certainly sounds as though she is enjoying herself and I doubt Ms Simone would have been too impressed with a straight copy of any of her numbers. As a result, Nina’s fans will be delighted with this joyous set, as no doubt will Barb’s, too.(Norman Darwen)

****Barb Jungr ‘Just Like A Woman (Hymn to Nina)’Record Collector, May 2008,
Finally, look out for Just Like A Woman (Hymn To Nina), a fabulous new album by BARB JUNGR, a Rochdale-born chanteuse with both Czech and German roots, who’s built her reputation as an interpreter of French chansons. Intended as an homage to Nina Simone, the 11-track CD finds Jungr offering radical and boldly imaginative reinventions of the Simone favourites Feeling Good and Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, plus a compelling, almost incantatory medley of One Morning In May and The Pusher.

Barb Jungr ‘Just Like A Woman (Hymn to Nina)’ Jazzwise, May 2008
Nowadays fewer singers do it than before, maybe because it's not simple (certainly not as simple as some people might make it out to be). We're speaking about thematically linked song programmes, as here. The small print explains, "all songs previously recorded by Nina Simone" though I admit to Simone singing The Pusher never having lodged in my cranium. Like Scarlett O' (Seeboldt) in Germany, Barb Jungr has developed the knack of creating cohesive and coherent song cycles. "Just Like a Woman" has Nina Simone's repertoire as its backbone but it is Jungr and the team that add new sinew, muscle and grey matter to what could have been easily turned into a posy of Nina nosegays.

For many Simone's piebald-varied repertoire will be the stuff of association - love affairs, flings, lives and deaths. Jungr's phrasing and ability to slide across end rhymes in to the next line are the stuff of revelation. Likewise, what music director Jenny Carr's figurative baton achieves. Danny Thompson's skeletal bass on Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood could be being played on, to summon an image from European folklore, wailing strings. "Just Like a Woman" works both as an artistic statement and an artistic unity.

*** Barb Jungr ‘Just Like A Woman’, Scotland on Sunday 16.3.08

Subtitled Hymn To Nina, this album is the English singer Barb Jungr's tribute to the late Nina Simone, one of her key influences. The 11 songs are all numbers that Simone herself interpreted - and range from traditional ballads, such as Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair, to pop classics, including a trio of Bob Dylan songs and the Gibb Brothers' To Love Somebody. Jungr's pure, throaty vocals have a fluidity and agility which allow her to pull off the trickiest numbers with graceful ease. (Alison Kerr)

Barb Jungr – Just Like A Woman. Sunday Mercury, Birmingham. March 16.3.2008-03-12
There’s an awful lot of female vocalists around at the moment and problem is many of them sound very much alike. The British born Barb Jungr doesn’t.

Following her recent, fine albums ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘Every Grain of Sand’ she now pays homage to the music of the brilliant Nina Simone.

Her jazzy, Peggy Lee style vocals, coupled with some subtle playing from her backing band, make this a very interesting album. (Bev Bevan)

Barb Jungr's Hymn to Nina Simone (All About Jazz.com) March 4, 2008

"Just Like a Woman" is Barb Jungr's hymn to he late, legendary Nina Simone. This beautiful, haunting and reflective album comprises eleven songs famously interpreted by the great singer - a voice with whom she has often been compared. Like her mentor, Jungr is truly a singer who lives life through her work.

This release is backed by an extensive UK tour. She has just returned from New York where she collected the Nitelife Award for Outstanding Cabaret Vocalist 2008. For this recording, Barb surrounded herself with some of the UK's finest musicians, including Danny Thompson on bass and Mark Lockheart on saxophone and clarinets. The songs are imaginatively arranged and are performed throughout with lan and a moving lightness of touch. Highlights include a gorgeous rendition of “Lilac Wine", a robust take on “The Times They Are a-Changin'" and a floor-filling jazz-dance version of “Feeling Good". Co-produced by the Blue Nile producer Calum Malcolm, jazz instrumentation and a straight ahead sensibility blend with Jungr's knowing interpretations to powerful effect. Jungr is perhaps most famous for her re-workings of Bob Dylan songs.