Stockport To Memphis is the superb new album from Barb Jungr, one of the world's foremost interpreters of song. Variously described by critics as magnificent, mesmerising and magical, Barb Jungr has built a formidable reputation as an international live performer and recording artiste. She has perfected the art of interpretation to such a level that listeners are often astonished to discover that well-known songs that they thought they knew have been wonderfully transformed and very often elevated when Barb weaves her magic spell. Her repertoire includes songs by Jacques Brel, Nina Simone, Jimmy Webb, Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen amongst many others and she has attracted particular acclaim for her work on the songs of Bob Dylan, which produced two critically-acclaimed albums and a series of sell-out, award-winning transatlantic shows. For four consecutive years (2008 through to 2011) Barb has ranked at the top of Time Out, New York's best cabaret awards for her shows and in 2008 she also received the Nightlife Award for Outstanding Cabaret Vocalist.
Stockport To Memphis marks a significant new direction for Barb as she has included five of her own songs in the collection, which also features her new arrangements of songs by Sam Cooke, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Rod Argent, Mike Scott, Hank Williams, Tom Waits and, of course, Bob Dylan.
Barb Jungr has never been to Memphis. But as a teenage girl in 1960s Stockport, she nurtured a longing for what it represented; the sweet soul music she danced to in clubs at night, and its sense of a bigger, more beautiful world than the northern industrial town she couldn't wait to leave (as embodied by the title-track and stunning album opener). The album charts a metaphorical journey, not just Barb's own route through life and self-discovery but that of others, including her own parents' escape to the UK from war-torn Europe and her father-in-law, the painter Frank Bowling, who came to the UK from Guyana as a young man.
Barb's flight from Stockport eventually took her to punk London in 1976, where she began to nurture her career as a singer, going on to form The Three Courgettes in the 1980s, signing to Island Records, touring with Kid Creole and performing alongside Julian Clary, who regularly turns up to Barb's live shows to this day. Jungr and Parker, her musical partnership with Michael Parker followed. They recorded six albums, including one for Utility Records, the label spearheaded by Billy Bragg and toured extensively, supporting Alexei Sayle along the way. In 1991, at the behest of the British Council, they travelled to Sudan to give a series of workshops - it was a "mind-blowing" trip, which saw them fleeing from a country on the cusp of civil war and on to Cameroon, Tanzania, The Yemen, Sri Lanka and Malawi.
When Jungr and Parker eventually split, Barb embarked on her solo career in earnest.
More recently, Barb has been riding high on the success generated by a series of landmark album releases, including 2010's acclaimed The Men I Love: The New American Songbook, which included her take on the work of a broad range of American songwriters, from Todd Rundgren to David Byrne and Jimmy Webb to Bruce Springsteen, challenging the notion that a songbook fit for vocal interpretation closed at Cole Porter. All of Barb's albums have a strong theme, whether she's presenting what she refers to as "the New American Songbook" on The Men I Love or offering up her take on Simone or Dylan with the albums, Just Like A Woman: Hymn To Nina and Man In The Long Black Coat: Barb Jungr Sings Bob Dylan respectively. She has been enjoying a series of sell-out runs at home and in the U.S.A., where critics and audiences alike have welcomed the songstress from the north of England into their hearts, relishing her stunning live performances, which hold audiences spellbound. Slick and entertaining to the last she balances her dramatic style of delivery with an innate sense of humour and comic timing. To turn down an invitation to see Barb Jungr perform live is to miss out on a revelatory and uplifting experience.
Produced by Simon Wallace
Barb Jungr – vocals, harmonica and backing vocals
Simon Wallace – piano and Hammond organ
Jenny Carr – piano on ‘Old Man’
Rod Youngs – drums
Neville Malcolm – double bass
Natalie Rozario – cello
Mari Wilson – backing vocals
Ian Shaw – backing vocals
Sarah Moule – backing vocals
Gary Hammond – percussion
Mark Armstrong – trumpet
Roddy Matthews – guitar on ‘Stockport To Memphis’
"emotionally intense... Spell-binding"
"sometimes sweet, sometimes fervent... devotion to the Memphis sound"
"spirited... covered classics"
The Independent Radar
“a spiritual pilgrimage in song mixing works from her favourite artists with new original material…great”
Rock 'N' Reel
"emoting lyric driven tunes"
"Barb Jungr at her spellbinding best... irresistible"
"rather fine... with an intriguing twist"
"England's very own Dusty Springfield"
Thirsk Weekly News
" A cheery classic"
"velvety vocals... harmonious"
"wonderfully earthy... touching"
All About Jazz
"autobiographical... exquisitely nostalgic... atmospheric"
"brilliantly crafted and deeply personal"
"integrity... with a gentle classiness"
"another gem of an LP"
The Crack magazine
"Cabaret stuff, in the best sense of the word"
“gutsy, soulful and occasionally devastating”
"significant new direction for Barb because she has included five self-penned numbers in the setlist – and very good they prove to be"