Love Me Tender

Barb Jungr

Linn Records, 2005

REVIEW BY: Tammy Childs


When performing someone else's songs, you are opening yourself up to a massive amount of criticism, especially when the music was previously recorded by the legendary Elvis Presley. I have always wondered why a person would choose to remake a famous artist's music. Isn't it just asking for defeat? Though this would normally be a reason for automatic dismissal by this reviewer, I decided to give Barb Jungr an opportunity to prove herself. Jungr has taken the challenge and is attempting to fill some rather large shoes.

Starting at a wee age, Barb says the music was always there -- "never gave it a thought, always sang from being a tiny child, had the music in me." She allows her musical talent to take various forms, including lecturing on vocal techniques, and writing -- she has been published in Folk Roots, The Guardian, Jazzwise and The Sunday Times News Review. She has toured through remote parts of the world, giving concerts and hosting workshops with local musicians and singers in Sudan, Malawi, Cameroon, Burma, Tanzania, Yemen, Cote D'Ivoire and Sri Lanka. She is the lyricist for the Birmingham Stage Company's new production of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Jungle Book. She states that she is also interested in yoga, which affects her vocal performance.

Jungr adds her own unique Cabaret style to Love Me Tender and twists it with a sweet touch of pop. Haunting and full of emotion, "Love Letters" highlights the cello talents of Thangam Debbonaire and the striking vocal style of Jungr.

"Heartbreak Hotel" is croaked out and creates an atmosphere of pain and suffering. Presley's version was fun; Jungr's is depressing and a bit creepy. Redemption is immediately achieved on "Are You Lonely Tonight?"; breaking the song down and reconstructing it, Jungr dislodges the old style and gives it her own, making it a new type of ballad. She heightens the woe of the piece with the soulful quality of her voice. Adrian York performs on piano and I somewhat prefer his musical performance over the more well-known version.

Although "Kentucky Rain" was one of my Presley favorites, it didn't lose its appeal with Barb's rendition -- this walk down memory lane is easily her best offering. Although she does her best, "Love Me Tender" will never be topped by any other artist. Her version of "I Shall Be Released," written by Bob Dylan, could have used some tempering vocally, as the piece would have been prettier solely as a musical number. (Strings on this album are performed by Miriam Teppich, Dominika Rosiek and Rebecca Brown. Thangam Debbonaire is the cellist.)

The old gospel tune "Peace in the Valley" closes out the CD. Mari Wilson, Ian Shaw and Adrian York provide harmony. This softens Jungr's translation, making it equal to its predecessor, and allows Jungr's individualist radiance to shine through.

Barb Jungr's album is not horrible, but it's not great either. I am torn -- I was a huge Elvis Presley fan and I find it difficult to listen to these tunes I considered specifically his. On the other hand, Ms. Jungr is obviously talented, and very brave, and so for that I will give it a middle of the road rating.

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Rating: C+

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© 2005 Tammy Childs and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Linn Records, and is used for informational purposes only.