Wednesday, 2 May 2007

BarbraNews Reviews New Album

Review by Craig Hall

I was lucky enough to attend Barbra's return to the stage last year during her record-breaking 2006 tour. I still remember the experience vividly -- and I just wish everybody could have experienced the show the way I did. I felt the visual was so special, that it couldn't possibly be captured on a CD - but it was.

I was happy to receive a copy of the album last week from Columbia Records (ahead of it's 8th May scheduled U.S. release date). This two-disc 22 song set is 93 minutes of pure heaven. There's also topical dialogue which Barbra keeps to a minimum and focuses her attention on the music itself. She uses her pedestal not only to sing, but to inspire us through her thoughts. Political content is also kept to a minimum. Forget "Oh, I've heard that song sang a million times" -- Barbra adds a new sparkle to all her signature songs -- and she adds excitement hearing songs that she's never sang live before, especially those that she has never performed or recorded in her 46 year career. It's always an event to hear Barbra sing new songs. And on this collection we have a nice array of them, including "Unusual Way" from the Broadway musical "Nine," and beautifully written piece by William Saroyan that segues perfectly into "A Cockeyed Optimist. Another old standard (but new to Barbra repertoire) is a stunning interpretation of "My Shining Hour." Even the tried and true standards are creatively reinvented with help from her special guests, Il Divo, when they collaborate with her on "Music of the Night," "Somewhere" and "Evergreen."

As with all of Barbra's album releases, this ranks with the best of them. From the photo-heavy packaging, the superior 96-track audio quality and impressive liner notes add to the glory of this audio release.

As you can tell, I'm thrilled with the results and not surprised that Streisand has once again gone beyond the call of duty and delivered an album that is one of the best in her discography.

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