by: Paulanne Simmons




It’s a new year, and Barb Jungr is, once again, singing of love. And so she opened her show at 54 Below with her own “Tears in a Bottle,” which tells us those tears won’t turn to wine, so maybe we’d better get on with our lives.

“You can’t carry grievances into the new year,” Jungr proclaimed cheerful. “You need to move forward.” But then she added slyly, “We can excavate the past.”

And so she did.

In fact, most of the songs Jungr sings in “Mad about the Boy and No Regrets” are about love grown cold (Jacques Brel’s “Marieke”), love lost (The Beatles “The Night Before”) or love unfulfilled (Noel Coward’s “Mad about the Boy”). And only Jungr can make “no regrets” so filled with the pain that belies the words, whether she’s singing Tom Rush or Charles Dumont’s version, made famous by Edith Piaf.

But Jungr doesn’t merely sing songs. She interprets them in ways that invite the audience to see meanings that lie deep within the words and melody. Sometimes it’s a gesture, sometimes a few interpolated lines, a roll of the eyes or a wise smile. Jungr has a way of letting us in on a secret, whether it’s one we always knew or one she’s just discovered.

She’s also blessed with two incredibly sensitive accompanists, Tracy Stark on the piano and Mike Lunoe on percussion.The three seem to travel in their own orbit, but together they create a galaxy.

Jungr has the range and expressive power that make her perfectly comfortable in many genres – pop, folk, rock, international. There are favorite songwriters who keep coming back to her repertoire like old friends: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Jacques Brel, the Beatles. But at every performance and on every album, she always includes a few unexpected delights. If,one day, she decided to take on Carmen’s “Habanera,” one would not be surprised.

Barb Jungr rang in the new year for three days at 54 Below (Jan 2-4). If she opens up old wounds, she also lets us know it’s not so bad. If we made it through last year, we’ll probably make it through the next.

Mad about the Boy and No Regrets – 54 Below, 254 West 54 Street (cellar)   www. 54below.com