Barb Jungr – Just Like a Woman [Hymn to Nina] (2008)
Genre: Jazz Vocal | MP3 320 kbps | 123 MB | 53 min.
‘Just Like A Woman’ is Barb Jungr’s hymn to the late, great Nina Simone. This beautiful album combines Barb’s compelling arrangements and resolute delivery to bring a fresh perspective on songs associated with her heroine Nina Simone. Barb Jungr proves she is a peerless interpreter and makes these wonderful songs her own, drawing subtle qualities from the lyrics with a moving lightness of touch to make their message utterly contemporary. Barb is perhaps most famous for her re-workings of Bob Dylan songs and has included: ‘Ballad Of Hollis Brown’, ‘The Times They Are A Changing’ and a soul-meets-reggae influenced ‘Just Like A Woman’. Barb has surrounded herself with some of the UK’s finest musicians including Danny Thompson on bass and Mark Lockheart on saxophone and clarinets.
01. Black is the Colour / Break down and let it all out
02. Just like a woman
03. Lilac wine
04. The times they are a changing
05. Angel of the morning
06. Don t let me be misunderstood
07. Keeper of the flame
08. To love somebody
09. One morning in May / The pusher
10. Ballad of Hollis Brown
11. Feeling good
Produced by calum malcolm with barb jungr
barb jungr – vocals and backing vocals
jenny carr – musical director, piano and backing vocals
jessica lauren – organ, harmonicas, mbira, autoharp, mellotron, electronic tanpura and backing vocals
johnny lee – percussion, drums, clock sample
danny thompson – bass
mark lockheart – saxophones and clarinets
Barb Jungr’s new CD features her versions of songs originally recorded by Nina Simone. Needless to say, although the album is intended as a tribute to her heroine, Jungr puts her own stamp on each song, and each is transmitted through her sensitivity and craft. There are no slavish reproductions either of Simone’s interpretations or arrangements here, but rather shining original versions.
I believe that the sequence of seven songs from Angel of the Morning through to Hollis Brown may be the finest thing that Jungr has recorded. These are songs about lost love, unhappiness, yearning, wanting more and being prepared to settle for less, tears, regret, loss and death, yet the whole thing is done with such a delicate intelligence and such a depth of understanding that we begin to think that there may be something in the concept of catharsis – or perhaps we can simply sit back and enjoy wonderful songs sung by someone who knows what she is about and can show us things about the songs which we would never have thought of ourselves. The musicians here underpin and punctuate the words throughout the album with nuances and subtleties while Jenny Carr’s piano weaves a filigree of silver wire around that lovely, pellucid voice.
Of the three Bob Dylan songs which appear, Just Like A Woman and The Times They Are A-changin’ seem almost jaunty in these arrangements, but the Ballad Of Hollis Brown is more satisfactorily dark. Elsewhere on the album, the sleevenotes suggest that the tree in Lilac Wine grows in a graveyard. It seems a reasonable conclusion. I would go further and say that the cemetery itself is situated on the junction of Desolation Row and Lonely Street – and those of us who know Barb Jungr’s Heartbreak Hotel will be aware of just what kind of place that must be.
It occurs to me, of course, that all this harping on darkness and misery is not perhaps the best way to persuade you that this would be a good thing to buy with one click. Fair enough, but if it’s unremitting cheerfulness you’re after you probably won’t have read this far anyway. Be reassured that in the final track all the emotion which singer and band have kept under control is allowed to burst out in an expression of joy in life and living. Buy this one.
:~ Eric Blair(sic)
Nina Simone embraced utterly louis armstrong’s understanding of music: “what we play is life” and, “my whole life, my whole soul, my whole spirit is to blow that horn.” Nina sang and played with everything she had, and she took songs and inspiration from everything in her life and world. this was both her strength and her weakness, for that full commitment, that passion, is too strong a flavour for those of faint heart.
i grew up loving Nina Simone; that uncategorisable voice, her uncompromising approach to material, fearlessness in changing lyric and arrangement to make songs personal, and courageous musicianship. so when i heard her spirit speak demanding that i make a collection dedicated to her, i complied without question. this is my ‘hymn to Nina’. barb jungr january 2008
black is the color of my true love’s hair
the water flows to the sea, and when we stand beside that mighty river, it’s easy to cry for all that lost love and time, easy to break down and let it all out.
just like a woman
it’s just like bob dylan to write a song as beautiful as this.
there’s a unique and near perfect relationship between lovelessness and drink that only the abandoned truly understand. and in this song there’s also a supernatural aspect, that lilac tree is surely in a graveyard, the lilac flowers hanging over the lichen-covered stones as the clock of time ticks slowly, endlessly on.
the times they are a-changin’
this song is as perfect today as it was when it was written, the sense for Nina of those changing times may have been different, but every word of this rings true, right here, right now.
angel of the morning
this song is the reverse of ‘maggie may’, indeed it might be her song. such a simple song, with so much quiet depth.
don’t let me be misunderstood
“i have thoughts like every other one”, a very dark, dark song, velvet… and bloodstained.
keeper of the flame
“when the fire is burning out and the angels call my name” i may still be singing this beautiful and true torch song.
to love somebody
the gibb brothers have written some stunning songs, and this has always been one of my favourites.
one morning in may / the pusher
these songs had to go together, and the pusher became a hymn all of its own suddenly, and it is about so much more than drugs.
ballad of hollis brown
why would a man kill all of his family and turn a gun on himself? as always dylan reveals the reason by simply telling the story.
“it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life”. this is my 6th recording for linn records, but it feels like the first, somehow. “and i’m feeling good”.
:~ Liner Notes
The Sunday Times, 09 March 2008 4 stars
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
The Independent, 07 March 2008 4 stars
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 segueing of One Morning in May with the old Steppenwolf drug song The Pusher. Oddly for a Dylan specialist, her reggae-styled Just Like a Woman grates inappropriately, though 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.