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Paulanne Simmons

Jungr Does Dylan
Portrait of Barb Jungr by Steve Ullathorne

"Man in the Long Black Coat"
Performed by Barb Jungr
Pianist: Tracy Stark
Metropolitan Room
34 West 22 Street
Oct. 18 - Oct. 29
Oct. 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 at 7pm
Music Charge: $25, two beverage minimum
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Oct. 19, 2011

Cabaret singer Barb Jungr, whose all-Dylan "Man in the Long Black Coat," is currently making its New York premiere at the Metropolitan Room, running until October 29, says she came to Bob Dylan later in life. When she finally discovered him, like the guy who has given up smoking, she became a proselytizer.

During the show, Jungr comments that Dylan "wrote subtle, profound and beautiful songs about the nature of humanity from a very real perspective." For Jungr, Dylan is "dark and wonderful," a songwriter who "writes his whole life before he's lived it."

But Jungr's admiration for Bob Dylan fortunately does not prevent her from interpreting each of his songs in a very unique, sometimes startling way. Thus "Times They Are A Changin'," which she calls a protest song "for everyday use," becomes a sharp, angry warning with none of the famous Dylan drawl. "I Want You" morphs into a ballad filled with longing. And "Don't Think Twice" delves deeply into blues territory, with a surprise harmonic solo demonstrating a new Jungr talent

Many of the songs are interpreted both vocally and verbally. Jungr maintains that some in the audience see themselves as the lover and others as the beloved in "It Ain't Me Babe.'" She comments ironically on Dylan's relationships with his ex-wife, Sara, and his mentor, Joan Baez, who wrote bitterly about their relationship. Jugr's verdict: "Don't scorn a woman who knows how to use a typewriter."

But in the end, it is Jungr's inspired interpretations of Dylan's songs that make her performance so electrifying. Jungr's voice and tone can move effortlessly form gentle to sultry to angry and back to loving. What's more, she is blessed with terrific arrangers and, for this show, the exceptional piano playing of Tracy Stark, who even joins in for vocal harmony.

"Man in the Long Black Coat" coincides with the U.S. release of Jungr's eponymous album. her second collection of Dylan songs (the first is "Every Grain of Sand"). This gives those who love Bob Dylan, Barb Jungr or both the chance to bring home songs that are so subtle they will evoke different thoughts and emotions every time they are heard.

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