Released in the fall of 1967, Barbra Streisand’s 5x-platinum A Christmas Album has become the biggest selling holiday album by a female solo artist to date. Nearly 35 years later, the singer returns to the holiday forefront with Christmas Memories. Like last time, Babs mixes up the traditional with the contemporary, from standards like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and the jazzy “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” to a revamped version of Stephen Sondheim’s vintage “I Remember” and the destined-to-be-classic ballad “Closer.” The song, along with newbies “One God” and the socially-minded “Grown-Up Christmas List,” carry a heightened sense of relevance in the uncertain time since September 11th. I fell asleep from tracks five through nine (in fact, I’m beginning to doze off again right now, curled up in front of a cozy fireplace), but a breathtaking rendition of Schubert’s “Ave Maria” is more than enough to stir the spirit. And naps aside, the classy Christmas Memories is timeless holiday ambience courtesy of a consummate pro. My gay dad is gonna love this.
Score:Label: Columbia Release Date: October 30, 2001 Buy: Amazon