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Music Review

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Hard Rain (The Songs of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen)


Artist: Barb Jungr
Label: Kristalyn Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 24 March 2014

With a 66 minute, 11 song collection of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen compositions, Barb Jungr returns with her new album, Hard Rain. Wisely avoiding the personal in favour of the more political and conscience raisers from Dylan and Cohen’s back catalogues. The sentiments and vivid imagery of the songs (some stretching back over half a Century) are still potent today and Jungr has tried to find something new for modern audiences in her interpretations.

Jungr has stripped the songs back to the bare bones of just lyrics and the lightest of melodies, and then rebuilt them according to her own musical sensibilities. The songs are sparsely backed with the minimum of orchestration to allow her vocals to take centre stage. With a jazz styling and impressive vocal phrasing these songs have become something else. Taking well worn standards like 'Blowing in the Wind', Jungr has found new emphasis in the lone words themselves and created something new. This is an impressive feat and whilst the cabaret jazz isn’t to my taste I still have to admire her vocal skill. The intimacy of her live performances is well captured here and is done most tastefully.

Unfortunately though, this nod to good taste and professionalism kills what (for me at least) was the attraction of these songs in the first place. The rawness and the emotion of the originals have been replaced with an easy listening sound that veers a little too closely to parody. Interesting that Dylan’s own Hard Rain album of live reinterpretations was one of the most incendiary and intensely heavy albums of his career. Jungr has playfully turned this on its head with her own Hard Rain collection. Nothing ‘hard’ here.

If you’re fan of Jungr’s music then there’s a lot of depth to the lyrics and you couldn’t fail to find a lot to enjoy with this album. However if you’re a Dylan or Cohen fan you’ll probably find these interpretations a little too tame and light in comparison with the originals.


Richard A Bennett

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