Now, on Love Me Tender, Jungr has finally indulged her long-time delight in Elvis Presley’s music. And hers is an alternative view of his repertoire, which considers the emotions contained within and cultural conditions leading to the music, rather than slavishly being another Elvis imitator, who panders to the preconceived notions about the rock-and-roll legend. Indeed, none of Jungr’s interpretations could remotely be called rock-and-roll, or even associated with it. Instead, she worked with arrangers Adrian York and Jonathan Cooper to develop evocative soundscapes with the use of programming, strings, samples and unconventional instruments like the celeste or a harp. Certainly Elvis never sang any of his songs in this kind of setting, but then Elvis was Elvis, the original, who sang the music the way he heard it rather than intellectualizing about it.
Jungr appears to have visualized the "Deep South" from which Elvis sprang with Gone With The Wind-like slavery and gentility, for from her imagination in England, she conceives Elvis’ background to be thus: "Looking through the frayed, gentle blowing curtains into the large room of a decaying antebellum house. Vines push through the ceiling and roots puncture the floorboards. On a chair, in the moonlight, a woman in a faded ball gown sits...cradling the bruised and bloodies body of her dreams to her heart." Well, if this sounds more like Charles Dickens’ Miss Haversham than the Tupelo, Mississippi home of Elvis Presley, Jungr admits as much. I suppose that American romanticization of the upbringing of children in various regions of the British Isles would be as accurate. Jungr even find equivalency between her childhood in the northwestern part of England with Elvis’ formative years spent in the "Deep South" whatever that is. (Would Elvis have been born in the "Deep South" if his home had been a hundred miles to the northwest in Memphis?) Jungr identifies with Elvis’ interest in "African-American music" because she listened to Motown as a youngster. Yet, she doesn’t appear to be drawn to the music of African-Americans. And she jokes that "I do fully expect that people in Arkansas may burn effigies of me" because she reworks Elvis’ music instead of imitating it. She watches too many movies.
Nonetheless, Jungr’s evocation of atmosphere and mood is the strength of her interpretation. Rather than perceiving stressing the blues and gospel influence upon Presley, although it’s certainly there in the purely vocal arrangement of "Peace In The Valley," Jungr seems to have an affinity for the folk and pop qualities of his music. With "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" pianist Adrian York develops the first four notes into a motive, repeated as a dark and haunty question over modulations entirely unconnected to the original recording. In fact, Jungr doesn’t even explore lyrics beyond the eternal question, "are you lonesome tonight," until almost two minutes into the recording. The addition of the celeste’s colorings and the build-up of the synthesized soundscape adds drama to what becomes a dramatic recitation of questions put to her former lover. "Love Me Tender," one of Presley’s most famous among many famous songs, proceeds of York’s same chiming chords over changing left-hand modulations with a similar sense of longing and understatement. "Heartbreak Hotel?" Well, Jungr’s pensive version concentrates on the "heartbreak" and the "loneliness" of the lyrics, as do many of her other interpretations. Her and York’s composition, "Looking For Elvis," concentrates with a Roy Orbison-like yodel and unhurried rumination on "dark nights" and slipping and breaking dreams when she looks in a mirror.
There’s no denying Jungr’s appreciation for Presley’s music. She goes so far as to state that he could have been "a great operatic singer." However, Jungr’s take on Presley’s music is that of melancholy, yearning, loneliness and darkness. While all of that is a part of The King’s music, so is joy, sexual attraction and uncontrollable energy. None of that appears in her interpretation. Still, the Presley bottle is half full, not half empty, though at fifty percent, Jungr's attempt to capture Presley’s magic is considerable, though not comprehensive. The value of Jungr’s release is that she perceives the more haunting nature of Elvis Presley’s music that normally is overlooked in retrospectives of his music...and certainly by all Elvis impersonators.