Barbra Streisand Still a Force on ‘Encore’
Many folks in their seventies aren’t a force to be reckoned with – no disrespect. Most 70-somethings also aren’t a legendary, multi-talented threat, like Barbra Streisand. At 74, Streisand continues to flex her muscles effortlessly. The proof lies with her latest album, Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. Streisand impressively beat Florida Georgia Line and Britney Spears for no. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway
“At the Ballet” & “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)”
Encore opens theatrically with “At the Ballet,” featuring Anne Hathaway & Daisy Ridley. Beautifully executed, “At the Ballet” includes the entire scene, not just singing. Ambitious at seven and a half minutes, including the entire scene, amplifies the ‘Broadway’ aspect. While all three actress/musicians sound superb, Hathaway is particularly exceptional.
Patrick Wilson joins on “Loving You,” a briefer, enjoyable collaboration. “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)” is more powerful, finding Streisand collaborating with the late Anthony Newley. This isn’t the first time Streisand has collaborated with a late musician. Regardless, she and Newley soar to awesome vocal heights.
Momentum continues strongly with “The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened,” featuring Alec Baldwin. ‘Tongue-in-cheek’, the chemistry is exceptional. The funniest moment from the Sondheim classic is,
Baldwin: You are the god-damnedest thing that has happened to me
“Anything You Can Do”
Hugh Jackman joins for “Any Moment Now,” continuing incorporating the entire scene as opposed to merely singing the song. Things lighten up on jazzy gem “Anything You Can Do,” featuring Melissa McCarthy. This is one of the most fun moments of Encore, perfectly ‘cast’. McCarthy really digs in, with her comical persona shining through. The two update the classic for contemporary times, which is clever.
Traditional pop lover Seth MacFarlane gets his turn with Babs on beloved musical classic “Pure Imagination.” It isn’t the crowning achievement of Encore, but another respectable performance. “Take Me To The World” features an unlikely collaboration, with Antonio Banderas. It works soundly, without a hitch.
“I’ll Be Seeing You…” & “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”
The biggest surprise of the album comes by way of “I’ll Be Seeing You/I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” featuring actor Chris Pine. Star Trek’s Chris Pine? Yes. The results are simply fantastic. Pine holds his end of the duet down remarkably, with Streisand on autopilot as always. Encore closes soundly with crowd-pleasing favorite, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” featuring Jamie Foxx.
All in all, Barbra Streisand delivers another strong offering with Encore. At 44 minutes, Encore is the perfect length, providing a sufficient amount of material to listeners. She doesn’t sound 74 – she’s taken care of her voice. The duet partners are superb, amplifying the soundness of the album. Encore doesn’t “reinvent the wheel,” but definitely shows a legend at her best.
Gems: “At the Ballet,” “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me),” “The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened,” “Anything You Can Do” & “I’ll Be Seeing You/I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”