Even before their first session together, Barbra Streisand and collaborator Diana Krall designed Love Is the Answer as a deeply emotional record: "each song an exploration concerning matters of the heart. " And with the arrangements of maestro Johnny Mandel simply drawing occasional shading around Streisand's expressive voice -- and often leaving her voice as the only instrument -- the album goes well beyond the usual saloon-song tropes to become a heart-wrenching experience with virtually every song. Additionally, although much was made of the collaboration, Krall's piano stays in the background, and Streisand's is the only voice heard.
Barbra Streisand, the grande dame at 67, has no use for future-disco and NC-17 rappers. Her album of languid, impeccably arranged standards, Love Is the Answer, seems swathed in champagne bubbles and black velvet, be it a sluicing, string-laden bossa nova (”Gentle Rain”) or a Sinatra standby (”In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning”). Not exactly galvanizing stuff, but the woman still sings like buttah.
What's Barbra Streisand doing on this page, you may ask? Sharing her first full-length studio session in four years with jazz singer/pianist Diana Krall's quartet; Krall is also handling the production duties. Streisand is even due this week at New York's 120-seater Village Vanguard jazz club, where she hasn't performed since opening for Miles Davis there nearly 50 years ago. She might acquire the lustre of a little late-career jazz cool from this association, and her delivery of this set of well-travelled standard love songs is as accomplished as might be expected from a diva who didn't sell 140m albums and win a skipload of Grammys for nothing.