For a lovely evening by the fire hanging stockings and roasting chestnuts might we suggest a touch of Babs. Includes I'll Be Home For Christmas; A Christmas Love Song; Snowbound; Grown-up Christmas List; Ave Maria and more.
What's a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn cum
internationally renowned pop diva doing releasing a(nother) Christmas album? Well, maintaining a long-lived American tradition, for one thing. But then, this companion piece to Barbra Streisand
's 1967 A Christmas Album
has a mature, jazzy charm and sometimes smoky atmosphere that don't exactly conjure chestnuts roasting by an open fire. Just as Streisand has always used music as a stepping stone to something more ambitiously dramatic, she's used the holiday season here as an excuse to explore rich emotional sentiments, if not necessarily sentimentalism itself. As on its 1960s forebear, her choice of material here is mostly as fresh as it is surprising. Among the contemporary More Usual Suspects (David Foster's "Grown-up Christmas List," "A Christmas Love Song," and "Christmas Mem'ries" by Alan and Marilyn Bergman) are gems familiar ("I'll Be Home For Christmas," "What Are You Doing Christmas Eve?") and rare (Sondheim's updated "I Remember," "It Must Have Been the Mistletoe"). While not bathos-exempt (see "Closer"), Streisand's rich, ever-expressive voice masterfully drives a collection that stretches from "Ave Maria" (Schubert's, this time) to the ecumenical timeliness of "One God." --Jerry McCulley