The final track on cabaret and jazz singer Barb Jungr’s new album, Shelter From The Storm, is a medley of David Bowie’s Life on Mars? and Space Oddity.
In light of the singer’s death earlier this year from cancer, it has become an unintentional tribute to the musical icon.
‘That’s so upsetting for so many reasons,’ says Barb. ‘Somebody said ‘‘I’m going to play this to David because he’s going to love what you’ve done’’. He’s really keen on jazz and he’s worked with jazz musicians himself, and then he died and we never got to find out.
‘And I’m sad because I was such an admirer of his work and his singing, actually, which I think is often underrated.
‘Any song that you take, it’s a tribute to the writer, when we take a song and see if we can make it work the way we want to make it work, you’re actually going: this song is robust enough for me to play with it and for it to still be your song.
‘For me, I want it to sing through me as if it comes through my fibre. If you’re just copying it, that’s Stars In Your Eyes, it’s karaoke and I don’t understand it.’
I’d wanted to do something that had optimism to it, and I thought it would be nice to do one that gave people little strategies, you know when you’re really down - whatever that isBarb Jungr
In a 40-year career, Barb has worked in everything from alternative cabaret to supporting comics like Alexei Sayle and Julian Clary, to doing a masters degree in ethnomusicology, to releasing 20 albums that range from soul to jazz to world music.
Was there ever a masterplan?
‘No, and I think that’s just as well, because if you do have one, maybe you can’t do those other things.
‘There were also moments that came because of life and the things that happen in life. There have been opportunities that you might not have been able to take had something else been there.
‘You do in part have to be ready to say yes to things and put yourself in places that might be difficult or uncomfortable.’
On her latest she worked with legendary American pianist Laurence Hobgood on a mix of covers and original material.
We did that thing where you sit in a room and see if you have any sympathetic sympathies, musically speaking, whether you can be musical chums and I really loved what he did.
‘We got on great so we started to work and write together and made this album last summer in New York.’
The collection also has the subtitle Songs Of Hope For Troubled Times: ‘I’d wanted to do something that had optimism to it, because the last album I did was Hard rain and that was an extraordinary collection of deeply philosophical and political pieces, and I thought it would be nice to do one that gave people little strategies, you know when you’re really down - whatever that is.
‘It was about where you go to find something lovely.’
The Live Lounge, Portsmouth Guildhall
Tuesday, April 5