Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review of Barbra Streisand's New Album

Let's stop and think about this woman, Barbra Streisand. She has been working at the top of her game for over half a century, consistently releasing top-notch recordings and appearing in first-rate movies. So many female movie stars aged poorly and worked in Grade-B (or lower) movies (think Davis and Crawford). Many female recording stars lost their labels and had to work for inferior ones. Many saw their sales diminish until even inferior labels dropped them.

This never happened to Barbra Streisand. She's still playing starring roles, and she's still producing albums that reach #1 (as this one surely will). When it does, she will have had a #1 album in six consecutive decades--a feat only she will be able to top (it's only six years till the 2020's!).

She has done all this while maintaining a miraculously youthful voice. Her voice has changed a bit; she sometimes fails to reach the high notes as she used to; and she has occasionally sounded hoarse. But on this record she sounds great! On "It Had to Be You," her duet with Michael Buble, she sounds like she did when she first recorded it in 1964!

Some have complained about Barbra doing new versions of several of her standards--"People" with Stevie Wonder, "Evergreen" with Babyface, "The Way We Were" with Lionel Ritchie, "What Kind of Fool" with John Legend. I'm not someone who listens to Barbra's old albums much, so when I heard these songs it was like getting a visit from an old friend--one who had had a makeover!

If I have a complaint, it's that the older singers Barbra duets with--mainly Billy Joel and Stevie Wonder--don't have the voices they used to. (Lionel Richie, on the other hand, sounds fine.)

There is plenty here to please lifelong Barbra fans, and to entice younger listeners to go back into her catalog and discover all the wonders that lie in store for them.