Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reverend's Reviews: Babs Goes Mellow

Barbra Streisand's new CDLove is the Answer was just released today in the wake of her well-received September 26 performance at the Village Vanguard in NYC. It was Streisand's first performance at the jazz club since 1961. Nearly 50 years later, Babs is still knocking 'em dead.

Her new disc is a mellow, intimate affair that reflects both her awareness of the vocal limitations that come naturally with age and the influence of the CD's guest producer, Diana Krall (who also provides piano accompaniment on several of the tracks). This is Streisand's sparest recording yet, with only a small backing orchestra and none of her trademark theatrical flourishes.

The song selections are classic grooves reflecting on the highs and lows of that thing called love, and serve as a perfect compliment to a romantic evening. They include "Here's to Life," the CD's beautiful opening track, "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," "Make Someone Happy," "Here's That Rainy Day" and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Streisand's longtime muses, are paid homage to via the inclusion of "Where Do You Start?" and "You Must Believe in Spring," the latter of which is a bonus track on some CDs.

Streisand is, as usual, in fine voice throughout. Now in her mid-60's, she seems to be adapting well to the inherent challenge of remaining active and relevant in one's "golden years." One can hope she will still make at least one more movie too; she is reportedly still interested in adapting Larry Kramer's never-filmed AIDS play, The Normal Heart.

While only a handful of personal friends (including Bill, Hilary and Chelsea Clinton) and 100 very lucky people selected at random actually attended Streisand's performance at the Village Vanguard, several videos from the event can be viewed at her official website.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

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