Monday, September 28, 2009

"Love Is The Answer" reviewed

Barbra Streisand: Love Is the Answer (Columbia)
by Joan Anderman
Boston Globe, September 28, 2009

At this point in her career, Barbra Streisand has nothing to prove. She's the best, everyone knows it, and all that's required is a dozen or so great songs, a few talented collaborators, and voila. But over the years Streisand has released a remarkable string of duds, schmaltzy or misguided collections that pit her bountiful gifts against her questionable taste and make tomorrow's arrival of "Love Is the Answer" a happy event. The disc is a return to basics, which in traditional pop parlance means jazz standards and theater gems: "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," "Spring Can Really Hang You Up," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Here's That Rainy Day," and the like. At 67, Streisand's gorgeous tones and powers of interpretation are utterly intact, and also front-and-center thanks to producer Diana Krall's class-conscious pairing of her own understated quartet with Johnny Mandel's velvety orchestrations. The album's deluxe edi tion comes with a second disc of quartet-only tracks, which will please fans (including this one) who prefer their love songs unsweetened. Refined as they are, all those placid strings and feathery flutes seem to mock, rather than embellish, Streisand's pointed, bittersweet reflections.
by Larry Katz
Boston Herald, September 28, 2009

Given the opportunity to produce an established legend, jazz singer and pianist Diana Krall doesn't try to take Babs to any strange new musical places. No songs, God forbid, by or with Krall's hubby, Elvis Costello. No swinging jazz either. "Love Is the Answer" is 100 percent butter: a lovely collection of lovely ballads about love. The arrangements cushion the diva in sumptuous strings, while Krall and her jazzy friends occasionally add a few cool notes, always with the utmost restraint. Which is to say, the focus is all on Streisand's way with a well-wrought song. The few -- and they're very few -- signs of wear in the 67-year-old's voice only make her more appealing. Download: "Some Other Time."
Highly Recommended: Barbra Streisand - Love Is The Answer
by Mike Ragogna
Huffington Post, September 28, 2009

"There's no 'yes' in yesterday and who knows what tomorrow brings or takes away, as long as I'm still in the game, I wanna play for laughs, for life, for love, so here's to life and all the joy it brings..."

Sounding warmer and the most at home with her recordings since the mid-seventies, the 67-year-old vocalist-supreme at last reclaims the musical territory she reigned over in the sixties. Love Is The Answer is the latest portal into the soul of a woman celebrating her golden years with an album so beautiful, it's easily one of the best she's ever recorded. Make that one of the best albums of its kind that she or any of her contemporaries have recorded in decades.

Sensuously produced by Diana Krall and romantically orchestrated by Johnny Mandel, Love Is The Answer puts Streisand right back on the musical path she once immortalized and probably should have been following for the last twenty years. Her mastery of classics -- such as Bob Hilliard and David Mann's "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" or Jacques Brel and Rod McKuen's "If You Go Away" -- evokes her People and My Name Is Barbra albums of over forty years ago as it transports the listener to a post-prime-Sinatra era filled with music you still had to listen to with your heart to appreciate fully.

Colored by Krall's own moody quartet, everything here wears different shades of melancholy, like "Where Do You Start?" with its lines "Our lives are tangled like the branches of a vine that intertwine, so many habits that we'll have to break, and yesterdays we'll have to take apart." These songs are like the blues on a rainy day, offering semi-sweet, romantic insights into peoples' lives and loves.

Barbra Streisand recording an album this strong and lush and elegant brings her career full circle, and is in sharp contrast to recent Songbook marketing exercises that have filled the pipeline with especially mediocre recordings by maturing artists for years. Love Is The Answer is the antidote to such unimaginative, painfully-contrived releases, and it's time to either discover or rediscover this style of music with Streisand's latest being the perfect place to start.

On Love Is The Answer's "Here's To Life," Streisand sings, "May all your storms be weathered, and all that's good get better, here's to life, here's to love, here's to you." Right back at ya, Babs.

No comments: