Top critical review
An interesting failure
on January 3, 2003
I've been a Barbra listener for 20 years or so now, but her latest albums have had me running in the other direction, often screaming as loud as Babs herself. "Higher Ground" was, to me, absolutely unlistenable, and "A Love like Ours" featured fine singing but drippy, dippy, sappy songs with treacly lyrics. I got this CD unsure of what to expect.
First, the good news - with some exceptions, this CD is not "oversung" as her recent works have been ("Ave Maria" is a notable exception, and a sheer MESS that set my teeth on edge.) While I was pleased to hear some different "Christmas-y" songs and not the usual suspects, I once again found myself questioning Streisand's taste on a couple songs. "The "Snowbound" song and the title track I felt were pretty lame. "Closer" and "One God" were a little better, but not terrific.
Two standouts are "Grown up Christmas List" (given the best treatment I've heard, head and shoulders above Amy Grant, Natalie Cole, etc.) and the slightly rewritten Sondheim tune "I Remember." Barbra sounds gorgeous on this song, except for one note where, inexplicably, you hear a little throat scrape. What's that all about? Also there's an odd microphone (or voice) click at the very beginning of the ghastly "Ave Maria". With Barbra's record for perfectionism, I was shocked to hear these two very distracting moments! I'd like to think she's easing up on the control with passing years, but who knows?
At any rate, diehard Barbra fans will and must get this (and no doubt already own it). As for the rest of us, it's not truly horrible - the two songs I like will definitely get put on a Christmas tape, with a few more songs that may be included. Not a disaster or a joke, like Neil Diamond's god-awful Christmas disc - but not great either.