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Music Review: Barbra Streisand – Love Is The Answer

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Barbra Streisand is an icon, one of those artists instantly identifiable by both name and voice. Her list of accomplishments is enormous, but she hadn’t released a recording for a number of years now.

Love Is The Answer finds her working with two of the biggest names in jazz these days. Diana Krall, who knows a thing or two about breathy romance, produced the disc, and it’s her core trio that provides most of the superbly understated backing here. (Krall herself shares piano duties with the likes of Alan Broadbent and Tamir Hendelman). And Johnny Mandel, the master of shimmering support, provides orchestral arrangements of exquisite taste and delicacy.

The presence of these two, who together have set modern standards for sheer quality, pretty much guarantees musical excellence. Add one of the greatest voices in popular music and the results are utterly impeccable.

Most of the selections are a little more modern than typical "Great American Songbook" fare, though the material is uniformly excellent – songs waiting for inclusion in Volume Two, if you will, with fare like “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and “Here’s To Life,” along with compositions from Jaques Brel (“If You Go Away”), Louis Bonfa (“Gentle Rain”), and Ivan Lins (“Love Dance,” its magnificent melody deserving better than Paul Williams’ somewhat cheesy English lyrics). Mandel himself had a hand in a pair of the selections, having penned “A Time For Love” and with co-composer credit on the modern classic “Where Do You Start.” In the standards department we get “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning,” “Here’s That Rainy Day,” and the achingly lovely “Some Other Time” from no less than Leonard Bernstein.

The prevailing mood is delicate, gauzy romance, with a generous hint of vaguely wistful melancholy. Streisand negotiates the terrain with masterful ease – there’s no question she still has enormous power to spare in those famous pipes, but here she reins it all in, with only occasional glimpses of her ability to overpower an orchestra. There’s a theatrical bent to much of the material, and she approaches it with an air of knowing acceptance and a voice of maturity and experience. Add to that the utterly astonishing purity of that voice, her legendary control, and the elegance Krall exudes as producer, and the results are nothing short of magnificent.

This one really is about as close to perfect as it gets!

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  • Dennis Hammer

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s an important album for Streisand, leading her into a whole new form of artistic expression as she enters the autumnal years of her career. Since “Gentle Rain” is such a knockout on this album, I hope she’ll follow this with a collection of jazz flavored latin music. By the way, don’t miss hearing the additional disc available with only Krall’s quartet backing Streisand. It’s a revelation.

  • So, I guess you liked it?

  • Dear Sirs,
    O would like to tell you that Love Dance has two music composers Ivan Lins and Gilson Peranzzetta. As you can see in the album’s cover.
    I kindly ask you to correct this information.
    Gilson Peranzzetta
    [Personal contact info deleted]

  • Rejane Hinkle

    I have all Barbra’s albums but this one is a real snooze for me, I just must not get jazz, boring, boring, boring.


  • vince

    Glorious voice for a great collection of songs. Barbra is a treasure.

  • I’ve just written a quick review of this album here. I’d be keen to share thoughts with other Barbra fans!

    I think Babs has gone beyond “entering” the autumnal stage of her career. She’s well and truly in that mellow, brightly-colored stage!

    Bottom line. I loved it.