Barbra Streisand, "Partners" (Sony)
Barbra Streisand's "Partners" isn't just about star-powered duets, but partnerships of love and family. It's a love album for the ages, as fit for your anniversary as your parents' or your child's wedding. It could have been called "Timeless," but Babs already used that title in 2000.
Streisand sings with a stellar list of partners on her 34th studio album, including the awesome and unexpected: Andrea Bocelli, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds (who co-produced the album), Blake Shelton and Elvis Presley. The new recordings of beloved standards and some of Streisand's best known love songs feature her collaborators' talents perfectly, and every track delivers.
Stevie Wonder's sweet harmonica warms up their rendition of "People." John Mayer and his guitar bring the blues to "Come Rain or Come Shine." Michael Buble's velvet voice matches the big-band charm of "It Had to Be You." Bocelli lends drama and grandeur to "I Can Still See Your Face." Edmonds' silky voice adds soul to the classic "Evergreen." Hearing Streisand's inimitable voice alongside Presley's on an orchestral version of "Love Me Tender" is magical.
Billy Joel couldn't have picked a better partner than fellow New Yorker Streisand for a duet on his "New York State of Mind," a tribute to their shared hometown. Family love shines through on "How Deep is the Ocean," Streisand's duet with her son, Jason Gould. She writes in the album's liner notes that the Irving Berlin song "is a perfect expression of my complete and eternal love for my son."
Streisand is in fine voice on the album's 12 tracks, the new arrangements and instrumentations highlighting the timelessness of the 72-year-old's soaring vocal style.