Barbra's Wonderful Voice; Good Duets
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 03/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's a beautiful thing when someone has a skill or a talent which is readily accessible. Such is the case with Barbra Streisand. Until hearing this CD I had never really appreciated the skill and talent of Barbra. Inadvertently this CD compares Barbra with many of the top voices of today and yesterday, and it became apparent to me that Barbra has a very powerful and very beautiful voice.
Historically I have listened to very little of Barbra's music; my mistake. Barbra has an exceptionally powerful and melodic voice. I've considered Celine Dion to have one of the most powerful voices in music today. When I listened to the "Tell Him" duet with Celine Dion, I realized that Barbra's voice is even more powerful than Celine Dion's. Celine's notes are more pure, but Barbra has harmonics and strength in her voice that could overwhelm Celine's. However, the song uses the best features of each vocalist to create an incomparable vocal experience. This song will send chills down your spine.
Given that I only have 1000 words to describe 19 songs, I am unable to fully describe the experience of each and every one, which I would love to do. Instead, I'll point to some highlights.
"Guilty" and "What Kind of Fool" with Barry Gibb are absolutely inspired duets. Barry's falsetto is a brilliant counterpoint to Barbra's voice. Eliminate the instruments, they are unnecessary. I could listen to an entire CD of music like this, both of which were big hits.
Who can forget "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" with Neil Diamond? These two singers sound so much like actual lovers that you want to cry. Enough said.
"I've Got a Crush on You" with Frank Sinatra is a tribute by Frank and Barbra to each other and the place each holds as musical greats. Such an understated, but gorgeously performed tune, so simple and elegant; this is music from a time gone by.
There are several interesting pairings on this CD that make you wonder until you hear them; for example, the duet with Kim Carnes, with her earthy voice. But when you hear the two sing, it's magic. Another interesting pairing is the duet with Kris Kristofferson. Kris never sounded so good (thank you Barbra!). Considering I've always thought of Don Johnson as an actor, the duet with him could have sounded like an expensive stereo next to a pocket radio. However, Don pretty much holds his own in this song. In each of these duets I think that Barbra makes the song, but the contrast with the other singer works in each case.
A couple of songs on this CD do not work well. At this risk of offending someone, the one I think that works the least is the duet with Barry Manilow. While Barry's voice works fine by himself, Barbra overwhelms him in "I Won't Be the One to Let Go."
The other criticism I've heard about this CD is that much of the music hear is duplicated elsewhere in various separate formats, and there is very little that is new music. Thus Barbra's superfans end up with multiple copies of the same music. Given that I have almost no Barbra Streisand music (shame on me) this CD is outstanding to me. For those of you who would buy anything by Barbra, please forgive her for the sake of neophytes like me that are just discovering how incredibly well she sings.
A song by Barbra generally focuses on the vocals. Her voice and the voice of her partner in each of these songs are at the forefront. The music is in a supporting role. This kind of music is meant to be a vocal experience, and not an instrument experience. Frequently you will find the instruments could have readily been eliminated; the voices are musical instruments themselves. The music is generally mellow pop, with an occasional deviation toward a slightly heavier direction (such as the vocal with Kim Carnes), and just as often a deviation toward Broadway or classic tunes. However, if you like Barbra's voice, you'll enjoy each and every selection on this 5 star CD. If you like music by artists such as Celine Dion, Charlotte Church, Diana Krall, and Norah Jones because you like the vocals, likely you will find this CD will match your tastes.
This particular CD is imported from Japan. There is at least one other version of this CD available. Each version has a different price and may have different features. Please survey the versions available and determine which is best for you prior to buying. Good luck!
This review is based on a copy of the CD provided to me for review.