CD REVIEWS: The Men I Love: The New American Songbook

Only Glenn Campbell has delivered a better version of Wichita Lineman
Choice
, Feb 2010

There are few better interpreters of contemporary song than Barb Jungr.Rock’n’Reel

First recorded by Glen Campbell, I can think of no other version of Jimmy Webb’s ‘Wichita Lineman’ which best conveys the infinite horizons of northern Oklahoma which provided the inspiration of the song than Jungr’s reworking here.Jazzwise

The Times on Sunday UK ****

It is a sign of how the Rochdale-born singer’s reputation has travelled across the Atlantic that she returns to Woody Allen’s Upper East Side haunt, Café Carlyle, later this week. Walking a fine line between cabaret, jazz and grown-up pop, Jungr has always had an eye for an unlikely tune. This pensive collection hits its stride from the outset, with a brave reworking of Once in a Lifetime — it’s as if David Byrne had fallen into the hands of a Sondheim heroine. The Todd Rundgren anthem I Saw the Light benefits just as much from Jungr’s sharp intelligence, the pianist Simon Wallace sculpting another of his subtle small-group arrangements. Clive Davis

Reviewed by Andy Gill in The Independent ****

Friday, 5 March 2010
After the tightly-focused spotlight on the late Nina Simone's repertoire that was Just Like A Woman, Barb Jungr returns to her wide-ranging selections from The Great American Songbook with The Men I Love.

Although, being Jungr, the songs are often treated to odd interpretations which have the effect of turning familiar friends into complete strangers. In part, this is due to the instrumental palette favoured by Jungr and her co-arranger Simon Wallace, which features limpid tones of piano, organ, cello and woodwind – perfect for a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Night Comes On" poised on the cusp of relaxation and anticipation, but less effective on a version of "I'm A Believer" improbably transformed into a torch song, sacrificing its pop charm in the process. Perhaps the most successful, and revolutionary, interpretation is of Talking Heads' "Once In A Lifetime", on which piano, cello, shakuhachi and subtle percussion create an almost oriental mystery reflected in the inquisitive, airy innocence of Jungr's delivery. But the treatment meted out to "You Ain't Going Nowhere" is just plain wrong. Likewise, Jungr's "This Old Heart Of Mine" loses the sheer ecstatic momentum of the Isleys' original. Ultimately, she's on safest ground dealing with big, evocative choruses that reliably fountain emotion, most effectively here on and "Wichita Lineman". www.independent.co.uk

Propose Music Review

Before recording this album, Barb Jungr and her pianist Simon Wallace toured at length with the theatre version, The Men I Love. The show perceived soap-box reviews opposite the UK and in New York for Jungr’s brave interpretations of the songs, and for the play and tension her voice conjures up.

From Ella Fitzgerald in the 50s to Rod Stewart in the past decade, albums with “songbook” in the pretension have tended to underline classical songs by important songwriters similar to Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter and their ilk. Now, this manuscript has damaged which cover and in essence redefined the term.
The Men I Love: The New American Songbook focuses on songs created given the 60s, together with a little by stars similar to Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen. Alongside these is an brave reduction which takes in Motown, The Monkees (via Neil Diamond), Bread, Talking Heads and Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon.

Jungr’s powers of understand have such an heterogeneous preference in to a vital, awake album. She sounds as if she has lived each line of each song. These have been not only cover versions. Instead, Jungr and Wallace have taken the songs detached to find out how they work, prior to remodeling them.

Often the formula have been unrecognizable compared to the originals. The opener, Once in a Lifetime, bears no snippet of Talking Heads’ despondency workout, transposed by a sparse, thespian and roughly confessional celebration of the mass which hinges on the line “my God, what have I done?” delivered with an suitable clarity of revelation.
Key to a little of these versions is the multiple of dual songs on a associated subject. Can’t Get Used to Losing You moves seamlessly in to Red Red Wine, whilst This Old Heart of Mine becomes Love Hurts – the suffering of mislaid love is a repeated thesis via the album.
These recordings set up on the piano and voice twin of the live show. The pointed further of bass, cello, shriek and percussion adds shading, complementing Jungr and Wallace but detracting from them. Jungr needs no combined mixture to urge her information exchnage of the heated feelings contained in these good songs. www.proposemusic.com

CD Review at Girl Singers

I’m liking the idea of more contemporary material as part of the American songbook. So does Barb Jungr. “There is a body of great work which sits for me right inside the classic Great American Songbook,” she writes in the publicity sheet, “where songs both stand the test of time and also are able to be re-imagined…”

We’ve talked about this concept here in this space before. Christopher Loudon makes an impassioned call for songbook expansion in a recent Jazz Times piece.

Turning pop music into classics has been a staple of Ms. Jungr’s work for some time, but never quite as far as she does on this disc. Ms. Jungr – a master craftsman at interpreting lyrics – puts these songs into another space entirely. These lyrics taken out of their pop roots, and in the hands of a master like Ms. Jungr is something else, again.

The style is powerful and raw, especially on the ballads. And it’s surprising to me which tracks have been turned into ballads. You haven’t heard “I’m A Believer” like this before. Ever.

Other favorites included Paul Simon’s “My Little Town,” and (even I was surprised) Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman.”

The idea was hatched as a “something different” for a cabaret show at the Carlyle, in New York. The show won great reviews. The disc is no less.

Very highly recommended.
girlsingers.org

BBC Review - John Eyles - 2010-02-22

Jungr needs no added ingredients to improve her communication of these great songs. Click here to read the full review »

CD Review: Midwest Record

Game changer time as cabaret enters a new age. A sensual vocalist in
the best of the tradition, Jungr replaces Cole Porter with Jimmy Webb
and kicks off the new classic American songbook. David Byrne side by
side with Leonard Cohen and Neil Diamond and several stalwarts that
certainly deserve the recognition. One of the familiar but different
kind of records in the vein of Nouvelle Vague, Jungr is clearly that
important kind of uptown vocalist you have to pay attention to as
she’s got the touch to turn anything into art, in a good way. A new
high water mark for sitting down music.
Volume 33/Number 113 CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher

CD Review: This Is Books Music February 18, 2010

The Men I Love: The New American Songbook is an album that takes a unique look at American music of the last 50 years, exploring rock’n'roll, pop, and soul that presents these songs in an all new way. Even if you’ve heard them countless times (and you have), you’ll come out of this thinking that these are the best songs ever written. Maybe they’re a part of your life’s soundtrack and didn’t realize what they were or why they’re important, at least to you. Click here to read the full review »

BBC Jazz - John Eyles

Before recording this album, Barb Jungr and her pianist Simon Wallace toured extensively with the stage version, The Men I Love. The show received rave reviews across the UK and in New York for Jungr’s daring interpretations of its songs, and for the drama and emotion her voice conjures up.

From Ella Fitzgerald in the 50s to Rod Stewart in the past decade, albums with “songbook” in the title have tended to feature classic songs by notable songwriters like Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter and their ilk. Now, this album has broken that mould and radically redefined the term.

The Men I Love: The New American Songbook focuses on songs written since the 60s, including some by stars like Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen. Alongside these are an adventurous mixture that takes in Motown, The Monkees, Bread, Talking Heads and Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon.

Jungr’s powers of interpretation make such an eclectic selection into a vital, coherent album. She sounds as if she has lived every line of every song. These are not just cover versions. Instead, Jungr and Wallace have taken the songs apart to find out how they work, before remodeling them.

Often the results are unrecognizable compared to the originals. The opener, Once in a Lifetime, bears no trace of Talking Heads’ funk workout, replaced by a sparse, dramatic and almost confessional reading that hinges on the line “my God, what have I done?” delivered with an appropriate sense of revelation.

Key to some of these versions is the combination of two songs on a related subject. Can’t Get Used to Losing You moves seamlessly into Red Red Wine, while This Old Heart of Mine becomes Love Hurts - the pain of lost love is a recurring theme throughout the album.

These recordings build on the piano and voice duo of the live show. The subtle addition of bass, cello, flute and percussion adds shading, complementing Jungr and Wallace without detracting from them. Jungr needs no added ingredients to improve her communication of the intense feelings contained in these great songs.

Barb Jungr and the ‘Lost’ Generation

The Art Of The Torch Singer - Blog
Click here to read the feature and review »

Cabaret Confessional

Interview: ‘Less Is More’ – Barb Jungr Lets The Songs Breathe
Click here to read the feature and review »