The legendary Barbra Streisand’s long-awaited new album of jazz standards is made that much more special because the record is produced by the equally celebrated jazz vocalist and pianist Diana Krall, who also accompanies Streisand on piano.
Streisand’s previous releases (including the critically acclaimed The Broadway Album, Higher Ground and My Name is Barbra) were stripped down, archetypal recordings that showcased her unique voice (her performance of "Memory" and "Send in the Clowns" remain classics to this day). On her latest, we get to listen to her velvety legato ascending further into maturity, and what a juicy joy it is.
Krall’s presence and the input of such skilled songwriters as Alan Bergman, Jerome Kern and Artie Butler, flesh out the tracks without weighing them down. The result is a hypnotic and coherent 13-track elixir that fans will appreciate and new listeners will fall for. At the same time, Streisand (who shall forever be in my Genuine Divas Hall of Fame) is able to thrill and trill, soaring and swooping occasionally, as she has on previous albums. But this time, it sounds like she is taking more risks with her voice.
Look no further than her renditions of “Here’s To Life,” “Make Someone Happy,” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” (on which she delivers a pleasant retro-soul sound). Longtime loyalists won’t be disappointed by the minimalist approach or haunting sentimentality of tracks like “If You Go Away (Ne Me Quitte Pas)” or “A Time for Love,” which also provides a good example of Streisand’s knack for colourful and restrained vocalizations.
While Streisand’s work has consistently been too esoteric for the mainstream, it’s always been notable for the risks taken, her highly polished vocals, and her unabashed emphasis of art in music. As such, Love is the Answer deserves your undivided attention.
FAVE TRACKS: “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “Make Someone Happy” and “Here’s To Life”