Love Is The Answer
LOVE IS THE ANSWER –
A BRILLIANT LATE WORK BY A GREAT SINGER!
by Werner Matrisch
First a small preface:
In the course of her 5 decades - and in the end, incomparable career Barbra Streisand felt well over and over again for musical surprises – even if quite a lot of ignorant people, particularly "occupational critic" became never tired to state, she always makes the same. When she presented in 1971 with „Stoney End“ her first real pop / rock to album, this was a radical change of her present music. The dynamic, 11-minute (!) Disco-Duett with Donna Summer was at least as astonishing also. In the midst of this disco era of the seventy-year-olds Streisand introduced an album with exclusively classical songs, however, also absolutely unexpectedly. Who wants to be taken seriously there, must quite rather feel well. No less than Leonard Bernstein or Glenn Gould found it good!
Is to be marked that Streisand brought her pop rock disco to admissions first-class, but, nevertheless, was to be felt always that she had "appropriated" the signs of this music. Thanks to her exorbitant talent and her fantastic voice, the result was pretty good! Only: it was not really authentic. With highly respectful deference for the composers, she came along to the pieces of "Classical Barbra". Also here she impresses with miraculous voice – but in spite of all beauty of her interpretation she remains careful in the expression and behaves rather neutrally: She hides a lot of that what puts out her artistic personality.
On her CD "Love Is The Answer" Barbra Streisand has ventured for the first time on a relatively jazz-oriented album – and she wins at all levels! Already with the first tones is to be felt: Barbra Streisand has arrived in a new, astonishing manner again with itself! Concerned moved the music world in 1963 into enthusiasm with the authenticity, which! We remember: Streisand's the first solo album began with "Cry Me A River", a jazz classic and was immediately honoured with a Grammy.
On no studio album of the last years Barbra could as be convincing as here. On "Love Is The Answer" she proves to the listener once again new dimensions of her art – a song art which requires, however, allowance: Who listens not properly, misses the nuances – and misses everything! Although Streisand's voice has lost over the years in height, strength and energy , her expression spectrum is extended and deeper. Constantly varying timbres of her voice fascinate and sprinkle the kaleidoscope of the tones.
Seldom before she has sung more subtle and more many-faceted. At place of the vocal perfection sensitivity, intimacy, and a kind new for them of the phrasing has sat down in the foreground. Of course this voice is still astonishingly sounds very nice. She sings the most important marks of a melody furthermore clearly and completely, stretches and she stretches with hardly audible - or where it fits - also specially to stressed Vibrato.
Besides, she remains unpretentious mostly pleasantly and permits herself emotionalism where it simply belongs: to Brel's "Ne me Quitte Pas". (If You Go Away). Mixing bliss was the charasteristic feature of quite a lot of versions of other interpreters and "hackneyed" a song cannot almost be. Therefore, it is more big art as within this song by Streisand's undisguised identification real drama and new tension is generated.
Differently than during former years in which her songs often marked a virtually irritable increase she takes back herself today and forms a musical increase more warily.
"Love Is The Answer" is an impressive teamwork with jazz star Diana Krall.
She produced the album and provided for a new, more simple sound. This sound is much more effective in his intelligent concentration on the characteristic feature of jazz ballads and is more adequate than, for example, the smooth-bombastic orchestration of the Moviealbums about 2003, on the Streisand also sings some jazz classics like "But Beautiful" or "Wild Is The Wind".
Diana Krall, an excellent jazz pianist, accompanies Streisand with some titles. But also the other pianists, to all at the head of the magnificent Tamir Hendelman, stress versed and inspiring the jazz accents of the album. Johnny Mandel arranged the orchestra version of the album and has except with the first title "Here's To Life" with which the string players still boil up a little violently, pleasant restraint allow to prevail. Barbra Streisand voice is never covered by an uncreative orchestra sauce. His arrangements are light floating and please by a clear sound picture.
The repertoire exists of songs, they received long ago her high-class seal - the uppermost league. Nevertheless, some are known of it a lot of German hearing less. There "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" remains the big exception. All songs are held quiet and are carried more or less by melancholy. "Love Is The Answer" became a jazz ballad album, comparably with the classic of Billie Holiday: „Lady in sateen“ (1958), or also as „Like Someone in Love, (1957) of Ella Fitzgerald and Stan Getz.
If somebody made today an album with twelve songs which are similarly structured rhythmically everybody is spoken immediately of uniformity and boredom. The superficiality of the "listening" is spread as never before. This may lie with the unclear amount of produced music – and with the supremacy of the mainstream. Quick consuming is announced – a title a little bit similarly comes seems as the previous, becomes immediately a click to the next song.... Concentration or even some allowance to an achievement is required too much. Right next to it there are umpteen things which fly to us only so!
A voice like Streisand has today, can be never dull or tasteless, does not matter what she sings now , Among the rest, a vertiginous discrepancy of still girl-like, almost innocent radiation provides also for it in her voice to the fragile disillusioned undertones of a life-experienced diva.
Fortunately, my searches have proved that the US criticism is overriding for "Love Is The Answer" predominantly well to. There are CDs, one puts on that and already feels during the first two or three minutes: here everything is right! Mostly are the albums whose draught of the music is uncompromising. Just just an uncompromising album is "Love Is The Answer".
Barbra Streisand which stylised her interpretations often and especially with pleasure on her Moviealbum escapes on her new album of the pure aesthetics and confesses to truthfulness, intimacy and vulnerability. She is ready to provide lived situations. There are moments at which her voice sist weak, or roughness shows - not only then she starts to improvise the marks. She does with it something what also gives a kind of jazz atmosphere – to the album knowingly that the improvisation belongs to the jazz like the water to the thriving plant. The luminous charisma of Streisand's voice has become smaller: she does not serve on "Love Is The Answer" her voice, but separate completely the song in his absolute essence. She thereby is also much better in the harmony with her musicians because she is not any more the only attraction of an album, or of the music.
The bonus CD of "Love Is The Answer" (in the Deluxe CD issue) contains the acoustically breathtaking quartet version. These are the same titles in the same order and also Streisands song is the same admission – only the orchestral accompaniment is absent. This quartet version provides the unequivocal evidence of Streisands musical maturity. In the midst of this diminished company the greatest possible intimacy and the highest cleanness develops in the sound. A new unfailable to hear quality, a new impulse in Streisands singing becomes so much clearer than on the orchestra version of the album.
The Bossa Nova titles „Gentle of margin“ and “Love of dance” fascinate by beguiling, floating delicacy. In "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most" Barbra succeeds in the middle section of the song her best jazz phrasing of the album. Two songs „Make Someone of happy“ and "In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning" are with her piercing beauty and clarity the lyrical brilliant pieces of the CD generally.
How individualistically, just incomparable, Streisand really sings, is to be heard in earliest with a piece which the coloured vowel group "The Platters" have made formerly a world tearjerker: "Smoke gets In Your Eyes" does without in the Streisandversion totally the dripping kitsch and gets to her almost a little "at an angle" with a bittersweet stress on melancholy. From the simpleness of the song Streisand in masterly manner makes the opposite and gives to the text of the song a new, maybe more real meaning.
„Some Other of time“, Leonard Bernstein Komposition with unexpected melody guidance and also the bonus track „You Must Believe In Jump“, skilfully only with piano company, lay at the end of the CD unmistakably the seal „It's a kind of art“ about this brilliant "late work".
"Love Is The Answer" has the aura of a quiet sensation for me. Congratulations, Mrs. Streisand. Nice that you have made this album – I had waited for a long time for such a thing!
(c) Werner Matrisch, Cologne, October 2009