Review: Barbra Streisand Partners

Babs doubles up with some mixed results


At the time of writing, Barbra Streisand's latest album - her 34th LP release - is due to hit the top of the American charts. If it does, it will make her the first artist to have had a number one in each of the past six decades. As the title suggests, Partners is a duets album, the sort of thing that all the music legends - notably Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett - have done. In fact, I've Got A Crush On You, Sinatra and Streisand's team-up for his 1993 album, Duets, appears on the deluxe edition of Partners, as do previous duets with Bryan Adams (I Finally Found Someone), Barry Gibb (Guilty) and Barry Manilow (I Won't Be The One To Let Go).

The rest are all new collaborations with living artists, with the exception of Love Me Tender, featuring a digitally revived Elvis Presley. Elsewhere, A-list singers, all male, include Stevie Wonder, Michael Bublé, Lionel Richie, John Legend, Andrea Bocelli and Billy Joel. It's a veritable J-fest. Apart from Manilow, Mayer (half-Jewish) and Joel, there is the Sondheim and Bernstein classic, Somewhere, on which Josh Groban joins her. And Streisand kvells during a version of Irving Berlin's How Deep Is The Ocean, her first duet with her son, Jason Gould.

Produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds - who does a neat Michael Jackson impression on Evergreen - the results are a mixture of the jazzy (Bublé), bluesy (Mayer) and schmaltzy (Richie). Some might find the duet with Presley a tad creepy, although Streisand has justified its inclusion by explaining that he was the original choice for the male lead, later taken by Kris Kristofferson, in A Star Is Born. The duet with Bocelli is predictably overblown, the one with Legend understated.

Probably the track that works best is People, perhaps because in Wonder, it features one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Make that two. Streisand is in fine form throughout. If fans will find little to criticise about her performances, they might reserve judgment on the album until they discover the ratio of Babs to her various male guests.

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