I’m a sucker for covers albums particularly when Bob Dylan is involved. Some are good, some are dreadful but they all have something to recommend them. Add Leonard Cohen to the mix and I begin to salivate.
Barb Jungr has the ability to take a well-known song and make it her own. With early Dylan and, indeed, early Cohen it’s not difficult to move away from the original – a single acoustic guitar and a somewhat metronomic delivery is easy to soup up. It worked for The Byrds. Barb starts by completely ignoring the originals although later Cohen songs like ‘First We Take Manhattan’ and ‘1000 Kisses Deep’ suit her perfectly as they are. She imbues ‘Hard Rain’ with a bitterness that Dylan only hints at and takes the torrent of words that is ‘It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’ and, by enunciating each one clearly, makes perfect sense of the song.
The music is piano-led with mostly hand percussion. Add a flute (actually shakuhachi) and it’s west-coast hippy with a hint of jazz – ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, for example – add stand-up bass and it’s more late-50s beatnik in a smoky dive – that’s where ‘Everybody Knows’ comes from. All the arrangements are understated, though, the songs and the voice are the important ingredients but they always feel right for the song. This is knockout album.
Artist’s website: http://www.barbjungr.com/