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Love is the Answer
Format: Audio CD|Change
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VINE VOICEon November 5, 2009
The Mark of Barbra is all over this CD. From the concept, the song selection, the arrangements, the instrumentalists and the artwork to the voice of Barbra herself, this project delivers what fans have come to expect from this great artist: an impeccable musical production. Without knowing any of Barbra's personal details, even a first-time listener will easily surmise that she is a peaceful, happy, wise person who has sought and found true love and wants to share its wondrous message with others. And because it's Barbra, the message is expressed as beautifully as any singer possibly could. If you're familiar with these songs at all, you'll be moved, as I was, by Barbra's ability to shine a new light on old material. "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" is a good example. I've heard the song before, but never like this.

The idea of presenting the songs in two formats, one with orchestra and one with small back-up combo, was brilliant. Both formats are equally good.

Barbra can still "belt" when she wants to, and she occasionally lets it fly on this CD, but for the most part she prefers to croon. We've gotten used to the vocal meanderings of singers whose lack of training and technique forces them to distort vowels, change tone colors when they can't manage a note, yodel, breathe in the middle of a phrase, strain, scream and grandstand, and hope nobody will notice -- or will even admire them for it. Want to know what really good singing sounds like? Let the Master demonstrate how it's done.

Although individually the performances are first-rate in a subtle, yet deeply emotional way, the fact that the album is 100% ballads takes its toll after awhile, and I start to get bored. To counteract this, I listen to the CD in sections, rather than all at once. Because of this lack of variety I've rated it 4 stars. And, although Barbra brings all her dramatic and vocal powers to the effort, I admit that I detest Jacques Brel's song "If You Go Away/Ne Me Quitte Pas," which is a maudlin bore in any language, including the original French.

Having said that, I'd like to underscore that if you're a fan of the American Songbook, you'll want to own this gorgeously sung and produced CD by one of America's all-time great musical treasures. Thank you for your lifetime of musical service, Barbra. Thank you very much.
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on November 3, 2010
The idea/conceit behind the deluxe edition is terrific. Same songs, different backing. Though I wish the vocals differed as well, ultimately it does not much matter. Ms. Streisand's voice and interpretations are as good, even better, than they've ever been. Perhaps it is because I myself am 'older' (45) but the depth and experience that add to the beauty of her voice on this album only add to the greatness. And unlike some of her other albums that can be, well, a little cheesy (she loves that old fashioned sound), having Diana Krall involved obviously tempered some of her enjoyably more sentimental leanings. This is as adult, and mature, and beautiful as anything she has recorded. For me, her vocals on 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes' sum it up - the wonder and pain of the song, which co-mingle to make it one of the great devastating torch songs of all time, are in stunning evidence. She lets her voice crack in pain towards the end in ways I have never heard on one of her recordings. Heartbreaking and inspiring both. I've listened to both versions many times now and I tend to like whichever one is on. Disc 2, as many have noted, is certainly a thrill. I wish I had been able to catch her perform some of these in NYC, with just a few musicians, when the album was released. But the lush orchestrations on Disc 1 are pretty wonderful as well. As I said, she's still got it, and in most ways better than she's ever had before.
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on October 3, 2009
It's hard to believe I'm saying this, but I love this album---both CDs. The notion of doing duplicate CDs, one with orchestra and one with quartet, is new (at least to me) and, in my view, brilliant. Each works in its own way.

I loved the early, pre-Hollywood Barbra. She was fresh, vibrant and exciting. She took the world by whirlwind. Then, she went to Hollywood and started to believe all the praise people were heaping on her. She turned from innocent waif with a mighty voice into a conceited, totally full-of-herself, self-important "star." And, her music showed it; her personal appearances showed it. She became insufferable. On many of her songs, she reminded me of a constipated person straining to get rid of it. After a while, I could no longer stand to listen to her music, to watch her on television, or (heaven forbid) to attend her always-over-produced, fit-for-a-queen concerts. She was out of my life and I never regretted it.

Until now.

This new album reflects good taste and understatement from beginning to end. Not an iota of constipation here. Wonderful music. Wonderful choice of songs. Wonderful under-production. A mature piece of work produced by a serious talent who, maybe (just maybe) finally gets it.

Does Barbra still have that same wonderful voice? It's slipped ever so slightly and only in certain places. But, the maturity she brings to this set, coupled with the understated quality vastly outweigh any slip in vocal ability. There is not a bad song in the bunch. Not one.

From a former hater, I can only say: Don't miss it. I wonder whether she can top this. Only time will tell.
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on October 2, 2009
Well, here I go again. OMG! This is the most pleasing and satisfying album of the year and hers in YEARS. How she does it decade after decade is anybody's guess. Talk about knowing what's best for her, she had the smarts to get Diana Krall involved and make an album that is one of the highlights and milestones of her career. From song selections, choice of arrangements, giving us both orchestra and quartet versions, and choices of producers, Barbra has fashioned the album to end all albums. And that VOICE! I hate to repeat what has been said over and over again but "LOVE IS THE ANSWER" is the album, vocally, that I have been waiting for since the 60's albums. That VOICE, it's such a constant, familiar part of my life. Try picking out the best tracks, there are no best tracks, they are all supreme, beautiful and worthy of the Streaisand repertoire. This IS the happiest I have ever heard her sing. It is so obvious in every song that she KNOWS exactly what she is singing about. She proves that she is an actress who sings, making everyone of these fabulous songs into a three act play with a beginning, middle and end. The world is a much happier and better place with Barbra singing to us. When every other singer is gone and forgotten, Barbra will stand the test of time and go down in history as the singer all others are to be measured up to. I'd hate to be any of them. God smiled down on Barbra the day she was born, lucky for us he is still smiling.
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on October 1, 2009
When I first learned that Barbra was gonna record another cd earlier this year I got excited and then when I learned it was coming out in September and that it was gonna be Jazz I got even more excited! I got my deluxe copy today and I'm very happy with these cd's!!!! At first I just wanted the Quartet versions because Barbra has recorded with orchestra's many times and I just wanted to her in an intimate setting, well I do love the Johnny Mandel charts and disc 1 is great for a nice relaxing sunny afternoon.

Now disc 2 has a great supper club late night jazz feel, Barbra's vocals are more raw and you hear the subtle differences with the quartet that you don't hear on disc 1 and there are some slight differences in the vocals on disc 2. The recording\sound on these cd's are fantastic, I listened to both with my headphones on and you can really hear how certain elements where left on the recording. And Barbra's Voice is still in great shape! even with a little rasp here and there, it just adds some emotional depth especially on 'Smoke gets in your eyes'. Thank you Diana Krall for suggesting this idea to Barbra!
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on October 28, 2009
In the world of first class musical entertainment, I thought I'd just about heard it all. Out of the box comes a novel concept. A double album with one of the world's best singers, backed by a full orchestra of consummate musicians, playing lush arrangements from the finest in the business, singing a wonderful and not-too-hackneyed selection of songs. On the second disk, the same songs are repeated, this time backed by Diana Krall with her cool trio. This affords us a superb contrast of styles both musically and vocally. Diana Krall's piano playing is very much to the fore weaving so effortlessly in and out of these timeless melodies. My favourites are Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning and If you Go Away. All of Barbra's legion of fans will rush and get this as her performances are few and far between nowadays. Diana's fans will not be disappointed either. A musical marriage made in heaven. Do I sense a reprise?
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on November 4, 2009
I received this 2 CD recording but due to a manufacturer error both CD's were disc two. I contacted Amazon by e-mail on Saturday evening. They sent me a return label; not only that but I had a new CD on Monday overnight at their expence. This is a fantastic recording. CD 1 is with full orchestra; CD 2 is piano bar type trio. I have one in the living room stereo and the trio version in the car. The songs on this CD are great arrangements and it is as if she has returned to the style of her early recordings only refined by digital technology. They sound great. Diana Krall was a great addition and the songs really grow on you. Barbra was right to have released this CD in both versions. This CD makes you really appreciate the everlasting talent of this great performer and I am looking forward to her autobiography. She is indeed "Timeless." It is as if she has been several different people in one through the decades. Thank you again for your great service Amazon.
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What has Barbra delivered this time around? Since 1993, we've been "Back To Broadway", to the church and synagogue ("Higher Ground"), to her wedding ("A Love Like Ours"), to the movies ("The Movie Album"), and to a reunion from the disco era ("Guilty Pleasures"). All of these were successful to a good degree, my least favorite being "A Love Like Ours". With "Love Is The Answer", Barbra returns to her performing roots to do mellow jazz, with Diana Krall as collaborator - not so different from the standards Barbra has always excelled at.

This is no earth-shaking release, but rather a collection of restrained, relaxed, very musical songs, like her "Third Album". The Voice has deepened, and weakened a bit, but it still has that round, smooth quality. The person behind The Voice still sounds warm and wise, but a shade darker, intriguing simply because she is revealing yet another facet of herself. The arrangements are pretty basic, appropriate for this music. The sound is well-engineered, with the piano in particular coming alive. I don't find that there is one standout track, but rather that the tracks are pretty evenly realized. But I do have my favorites. On "Gentle Rain" and "Love Dance", the soft Latin rhythm and tinkling piano complement Barbra's artistry very well. "A Time For Love" is filled with bright images, and in places the song reminds me of "All The Things You Are" from "Simply Streisand". In "Here's That Rainy Day" I like the expression of strength while recognizing and accepting the end of a romance. And then there's "If You Go Away", about which I will speak again.

I must say that some of the negative comments about this album puzzle me. First, there are those who expected it to sound like one of her 60's albums. Hello? Then, many expected the album to be more "jazzy". I wonder, are they confusing "jazz" with "swing"? I've always thought of the "jazz" genre as being very understated, subtle. You know, like Peggy Lee. In a similar vein, one commenter said there is "...not even one song with a beat." Buying Barbra for "beats"? I recommend Madonna's wonderful "Celebration" collection. Further, about Barbra's French in "If You Go Away (Ne Me Quitte Pas)", one said that it sounds absurd, while another said, "...her transition into French is so sudden it's unintentionally funny." Well, French was my college major, and it sounds OK to me, so, I don't know, you be the judge. Frankly, I think her French adds to the poignancy of the sad song. Even her album cover was criticized, for being air-brushed! I think these expectations are a little demanding, even nit-picking, especially for a singer in her mid-60's. Judging the album for what it is, just the next in a long string of beautiful presentations, not comparing it to past glories - on that basis, I think it works out fine.

Just one more thing. I listened to the entire CD for the first time tonight. "Funny Girl" happened to be on TCM. So, I was watching Barbra Past while listening to Barbra Present. Talk about a surrealistic experience!
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Streisand's music on "Love Is the Answer" burns slowly like a flickering candle. "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" sets the tone, quiet & reflective. Unabashedly melancholy, the music here is cohesive with Streisand's vocals powerfully emotional, "Someone to love is the answer, once you've found him, build your world around him," she sings on "Make Someone Happy," from which the CD title springs. Streisand's take on "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" brims with personality in her reading of the lyric while the beautiful melody shines from her treatment. "Gentle Rain" & the closer "You Must Believe In Spring are also delights. One can postulate that the set would have been well served by a couple up-tempo tracks, but "Love Is the Answer" is a gorgeous set by this amazing singer. Enjoy!
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on April 30, 2016
I have wanted this album on vinyl since I heard it was released on vinyl a couple years ago, but being so pricy, I was hesitant to purchase it. I gave in and purchased this a couple months ago, and what can I say...GORGEOUS!! It is so beautiful! It's always been my absolute favorite album of Barbra Streisand's, but I prefer vinyl over CDs, or digital downloads. So to get to hear this on vinyl, was breathtaking! From beginning to end, it's so magical! You will not regret this purchase!!
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