Yesterday, I got my package in the mail--my preordered copy of Barbra Streisand's latest CD, Love Is the Answer. And while I did not get to witness the art live at the Village Vanguard with those lucky few who gathered in New York City, I still got to experience Streisand and the magic of that voice and the artistry that she practices with mastery and skill. What I can say about this album, first and foremost, is that it is one of the greatest testaments to love ever set to sound and music....
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In this most recent offering, Barbra glows with every lyric, testifying to the salvation and ultimate worth of love in each and every infinite form that it comes. Diana Krall must be wholly commended for her work as producer on this album. What an incredible gift with a powerful message. This album, Barbra's 63rd, comes into the world with perfect timing, offering light and vision that is much needed and welcomed in the times we live in. Thanks to Barbra Streisand and Diana Krall for this immaculate labor of love.
The opening song, "Here's to Life," is the perfect prayer, an incredible homage to this most powerful life force. Immediately, from the first notes, you can tell how Barbra's voice has become richer, fuller, and ever more elegant, like a bottle of wine that has brilliantly aged and offers that much more pleasure.
"In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," is a classic. The lovelorn romance of this song is ever so brilliantly produced in the chemistry of Barbra's voice and Diana Krall's magnificent pianissimo. This song is the very definition of a classic number.
"Gentle Rain," is another luscious collaboration between Barbra and Diana Krall that brings forth perfection in everything from the timpany, to the drool of the horns, to the ice chilled piano harmony that Krall lends to this slow, alluring number.
I am completely in love with and fascinated with this rendition of "Ne Me Quitte Pas." Only Barbra, in her sheer brilliance, would think to sing this classic number in both French and English. Exposing the smokiness of her voice, this song hearkens back to the likes of Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln, both of whom have produced classic versions of this song.
It is always wonderful when Barbra introduces new material to her reportoire. "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," is a charming tune that is very pleasing to the ear with its soft crescendoes and touching lyrics.
Though I really tired of "Make Someone Happy," a long time ago with Judy Garland's rendition (read: my sentiments concerning Julie Andrews and The Sound of Music are applicable to Judy Garland and this song; if I heard it one more time I might croak), Barbra adds an incredible flavor here that makes listening to this song a joyous experience. Tamir Hendelman must be commended for his incredible skill on the piano on this number. That Barbra turned this song into a slow jazz number is definitely something to celebrate.
"Where Do You Start?" is one of those songs that will evoke tears. Haunting from the opening run of the piano up and down that singular chord, this song avows all of the pain and experience that goes with living "with bits of memory...I look around...and don't know where to start." This song speaks to the humanity in all of us while detailing the bitter ending of a love story.
One message that comes through loud and clear on this album is that Barbra Streisand is truly happy. Her happiness ripples through in every note on this album. "A Time For Love," perhaps encapsulates that theme and that message. The whole world should revel in the happiness that exudes from this album.
"Here's that Rainy Day," is a beautiful lyric. Exploring the highs and lows that come with loving and living, like a warm coat it offers a protective layering against the rain with a terrific percussion and dreamy piano. This song is another that is destined to become a classic.
My favorite on this CD perhaps is "Love Dance." A samba-like expression, it is the perfect rue creatinig the base of the love offering that Barbra makes with this album.
Barbra delivers a classic rendition of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" on this album. Her ability to take classic numbers and make them fresh and new is truly brilliant. Alas, I do swear I hear an Oboe at the beginning of this number. Am I wrong?
"Some Other Time," is a nice close to this album. Sombre and scintillating this song brings the album full circle. Relaying the briefest of meetings between old friends it espouses the fickleness of time, the slipperiness of any given day's opportunity for bonding, sharing, and experiencing. This song is the final surrender to the purpose and will of life and whatever comes. This is especially caputured in the sigh of the last words of the song, "Oh well." Classic.
The last song on this album, the encore, "You Must Believe in Spring," is a great offering to world weary of itself and in need of a new expression of life and a reinvention of itself. This song speaks to the need for faith and the need to believe in the beauty of what lies ahead. This song embodies the wisdom and love that is offered in this CD from the incredible spirit that is Barbra Streisand. Thanks to Barbra for a beautiful testimony. This CD deserves to open at the top of the charts. Everyone should go out and buy this album.
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