Friday, October 17, 2014

It's Barbra's World And We All Just Live In It (Music Review: Barbra Streisand, Partners)

They say an artist's biggest fans could also be their harshest critics.  When I first heard the album in its entirety, I honestly couldn't help but feel disappointed by it. It seemed so...derivative, and lazy. Another duets album? Everyone else have done, and she herself has perfected that formula, so why go back to it again?  The choice of partners is mildly interesting, though ultimately predictable. I was most disappointed by the song selections. What is the point of redoing her biggest hits, and with her now-diminishing voice, the new interpretations would only lend to unfavorable comparison to the originals. And wouldn't it have been nice if Barbra had taken risks and ventured into her partners' musical genres? As much of a cliche as it sounds, I am salivating on the idea of her duetting John Legend's "All Of Me," or John Mayer's "Gravity," for example. Instead, we get them doing songs we've heard her do a million times already.  But as I listen to the album again now, I can't help but like it more. I mean, here she is at &2 years old, still giving her fans music, and I can't help but just feel grateful.  And sure, it's a lazy effort in a lot of ways, but it's still more than anyone else gives us. And yes, there are standout tracks. I am still enamored by the duet with Billy Joel, though they both oversing. Plus, you can sense a real connection with Michael Buble in "It Had To Be You," probably because it was one of the few (only?) tracks that were done face to face. And sure, there was a slight country twang in her Blake Shelton duet, though why she sould want to sing him knowing he is a homophobe baffles me. Still, there are a lot of tracks that did not satisfy me: there were nos parks with Andrea Boccelli, and Josh Groban seemed to be lost in his track with her. And the duet with Elvis Presley makes me cringe, though it really isn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I thought I would never see the day when she would sing "How Deep Is The Ocean," and I am just thankful she sings it with her son here, though I would have preferred a solo version, to be honest. All in all, I am still entertained by it. It may not be the best Barbra album, but for me, it is still infinitely more enjoyable than, say, the new Ariana Grande album, which just sounds so bland to me. So in the end, it's all good.

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