Love Is The Answer
REVIEW BY: Mark Millan
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/10/2010
The first thing that struck me about Barbra Streisand’s new album was the cover shot, featuring her looking relaxed in her finery – if a wee bit smug. I did approach with caution because upon further perusing, I noticed that the album of jazz standards was produced by Diana Krall, who at times can produce work that is brilliant (The Girl In The Other Room), and other times downright boring (Quiet Nights). However, if Babs is looking a bit smug on the cover here, she has good reason to be, because Love Is The Answer is very, very good.
The pair had been discussing the possibility of making music together for a few years, and last year they finally decided to go ahead with it. Krall put together a quartet that recorded the tracks live in the studio with Streisand singing. All of the orchestration was added later, and the deluxe version of this album includes a second disc with just the quartet’s versions of the same songs.
As far as her singing is concerned, Streisand sounds fantastic, as her emotive readings of these classics breathe new life into each song and her phrasing is perfect throughout. Her voice is, of course, the main reason that she has enjoyed possibly the most celebrated career in the world of entertainment, and at age sixty-seven, it’s still in fine form and shows no signs of deserting her anytime soon.
For the most part, the songs here aren’t what you’d call challenging for a singer of Barbra’s caliber, but when she does venture into slightly foreign territory (“Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”), her joy is clearly evident as she giggles halfway through her carefree delivery.
And on the more melancholy tracks, like “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning” and “Here’s That Rainy Day,” Babs can sound as down-and-out as the best of them. Although Streisand has a tendency to favor such material, they don’t weigh this record down at all because Krall has balanced it out by introducing her to sunny cuts like “You Must Believe In Spring,” which is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in a long time.
Probably the two best-known songs covered here are “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” and “A Time To Love,” both of which are given faithful but fresh arrangements that are perfectly suited to Steisand’s voice and style. Other highlights include the superb opener “Here’s To Life” and a gorgeous stroll through “Gentle Rain.” It’s moments like those that once again remind me what a naturally gifted singer Ms. Streisand really is.
I’m not usually big fan of most of Streisand’s work; although there’s no denying her amazing talent, I find a lot of her releases to be rather tedious. So because of this, it’s impossible for me to say where this album rates against her thirty-two other studio albums. What I can say for sure is that Love Is The Answer is expertly produced and exquisitely performed, and while there’s no doubt they were playing it safe here, Krall and Streisand have both produced a modern day jazz classic.