Barb Jungr

Bare

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Bare, ostensibly Barb Jungr's first solo album, certainly lives up to its title, in content and in execution. It is stripped-down, both musically and emotionally, with only Jungr's astonishingly supple voice and Russell Churney's piano accompaniment to do its selling. And sell the duo certainly does, peeling away the layers and getting to the very core of this fine set of songs, which includes a couple weathered chestnuts alongside several unconventional cover choices and a trio of spirited original songs, all dressed down and imagined or reimagined in inimitable cabaret style. As far as the old standbys are concerned, Jungr gives "Me and Bobby McGee" another run for its money, teasing out its juke joint undertones, but can't quite steal the song from Janis Joplin. She also dusts off (quite beautifully, if not definitively) Leonard Cohen's warhorse "Suzanne." The less orthodox selections are more rewarding. The singer recasts Roger Miller's country classic "King of the Road" as a bawdy blues tune, and her "Waterloo Sunset" is a lovely, pastoral prayer in comparison to the Kinks' reading. Even more pleasantly surprising, Ian Dury & the Blockheads' "What a Waste," with its new arrangement, blooms into a sensational showstopper, while Judy Collins' "My Father" simply glistens. The Jacques Brel cover ("Sons Of") is, typically, ravishing. Bare is, above all, an appealing sample of the sort of repertoire and style that Jungr had been developing throughout the decade. In fact, the album's genesis ran hand in hand with a pair of the singer's trademark showcases, Bare and Red Roses Blue Ladies, in which some of these songs were featured. But it also served as a wonderful dry run for the pair of landmark albums that immediately followed from the artist.

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