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Every Grain of Sand

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Album Review

Every Grain of Sand is a breathtaking revelation on several fronts. First, Barb Jungr treats Bob Dylan as one of the great tunesmiths of the American popular tradition. Not merely as rock & roll's preeminent songwriter, the direction from which virtually all others have approached his canon, but as a sophisticated composer the equal of the Gershwins, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, or Cole Porter. Jungr dramatically re-reads that canon and she fearlessly reshapes it in the process. To cite the most radical instances, she turns "Things Have Changed" into an Eastern European jig and "Tangled up in Blue" into a jaunty, jazzy western, while "Born in Time" is a marvel full of Baroque voicings. One may quibble — and Dylan fanatics, known to be provincial on occasion, certainly will, perhaps vociferously — with an arrangement here or a lyrical interpretation or subtle shading there without — and here is the magic of the album — in the least invalidating the singer's choices. Indeed, part of the sublime beauty of Every Grain of Sand is that it inspires, even challenges, one to make personal revisions and reinterpretations. Ultimately, Jungr is one of the few artists who has managed to not only come out on the other side of this songbook unscathed, but to actually come out having enhanced its gravity, significance, and unvarnished beauty as well as her own. She is not merely singing, but telling stories. She opens up a window of vulnerability and sensuality that had previously sat stoic beneath the surface of these songs and suffuses them with such a delicate, gauzy luminosity that they seem to glow from the inside out. Her singing is soulful and emotionally naked, and the performances are so expressive that you take something new away with each listen. The treasures ("I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," "Ring Them Bells," "Not Dark Yet," "Is Your Love in Vain?," and "What Good Am I?") tucked away here are endlessly rewarding. If you think you've heard Bob Dylan — or Barb Jungr — before Every Grain of Sand, you are, simply put, mistaken.

Biography

Born: 09 May 1954 in Rochdale, Lancashire, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

In an era during which rap and electronic music rose to commercial ascendancy, cabaret music could have easily become, to say the least, a quaint, passé art form. But during the last quarter of the 20th century, an alternative cabaret circuit developed and actually began to thrive throughout pockets of Europe. One of its catalysts and mainstays was Barb Jungr. Among Great Britain's best-kept secrets, she helped spread the word as a writer, advocate, and educator, but more importantly as one of the...
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Every Grain of Sand, Barb Jungr
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