Streisand dazzles (as usual) on new CD of songwriters’ lyrics

THE WAY THEY WERE | Babs has sung the lyrics of Marilyn and Alan Bergman for decades; now she has an album dedicated to the songs she and others have made famous.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

For Barbra Streisand, releasing an album is old hat… especially when she returns to the familiar. Her new album (dropping Tuesday) — her 33rd, following 2009’s Love is the AnswerWhat Matters Most: Barbra Streisand Sings the Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, has been on her to-do list for some time: On it, she honors her frequent collaborators, who composed the lyrics to the Yentl soundtrack, “The Way We Were” and more.

It’s almost unfair to review Streisand anymore. Her production values are top-notch and there is no denying her voice still gorgeous after 50 years. For what she does, it’s perfection. Add to that her status as a music legend, especially among gay men, and nitpicks might seem blasphemous. But regardless of what the makers of Glee think, she’s still human, and while Matters works in the usual Streisand oeuvre, she also refrains in her tone.

On the opener, the Oscar winner “The Windmills of Your Mind,” Babs lets the construction shine more than her vocal interpretation, delivering drama but still holding back. Still, her voice is solid, like a perfect wine glass: delicate but sturdy. She continues such subtlety in subsequent tracks “Solitary Moon” and “Something New in My life” (where slight hints of grit in her voice are surprisingly refreshing).

She closes the 10-track album with songs that also rely on similar structure. Face it: She’s diva enough to not mind showing off. But her touches to “I’ll Never Say Goodbye” and the title track are exquisite.

Soon into the album, though, the impact is lessened. Covering Sinatra’s “Nice ‘n’ Easy” doesn’t fit her style. Streisand is not overly sexy, but this track needed to be flirty and sultry; instead she sounds like mom singing a silly “come hither” tune in front of all my friends. Awkward!

There is a downturn in the second half as “Alone in the World” and “So Many Stars” play on. They make less of an impression and she’s less engaged with the lyrics. An Academy Award-winning actress could put a little more emotion into it.

“The Same Hello, The Same Goodbye,” though, is a floating dream, and is easily a highlight, as is “That Face” performed jazzy and playfully. Streisand even sounds less on guard than her previous tracks, more relaxed.

For diehard fans, this is Streisand at her finest: Quality production, impeccable voice, timeless tunes. For the rest, this is the same over again. With nothing to prove, I wish she’d be more daring in her music the way she’s willing to be with her films (Little Fockers, anyone?).

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 19, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Time delay

Trans man Lucas Silveira hits the road with The Cliks — a year late

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

TRANS AMERICA | Lucas Silveira and The Cliks make up for lost time with their nationwide tour.

Last summer, Toronto rock trio The Cliks released Dirty King. Coming off strong buzz from their 2007 album Snakehouse and the public approval of high profile bands like The Cult and Cyndi Lauper, the band was on the rise. With King, their sound matured yet still offered the grit of garage rock.

But the band imploded soon after, leaving trans frontman Lucas Silveira with a new album on his hands and a major setback.

“The band on King left and that put a halt in touring and getting the album out there,” Silveira says. “That wasn’t great for the album taking off after its release.”

But The Cliks was always Silveira’s project. He was disappointed that bandmates Morgan Doctor and Jen Benton departed before touring, but he rallied and is on the road with a new incarnation, hoping fans haven’t forgotten the album he’s now supporting. He’ll find out Thursday when their tour brings them to Dallas.

“This is the tour I wanted to do when the album came out,” he says. “It would have gone a lot better then. But now, I have to rekindle the need and reconnect with fans.”

So far Silveira has found his audience has stuck around, especially his most loyal of all: the queer fans. Gaining notoriety as perhaps the first FTM trans rocker, Silveira garnered attention from big gay media like The Advocate and Out, and his band was tapped by Lauper to play on the True Colors Tour. But with a reputation for a killer live show and an evolving sound, The Cliks are transcending the trans curiosity and finding a real place in rock music.

“We still have a lot of queer fans and from that root, it’s really grown into a very diverse audience,” he says. “It’s something I’m very proud of. We have 60 year-old straight fans amid 30-something queer women. It’s so interesting.”

Silveira knows he won’t escape the trans label as, at least, a first impression, but he embraces the responsibility of artistic evolution, proving that he and The Cliks are here for the music. He’s seen the novelty wear off enough to attract and keep a non-gay audience, but he’s willing to meet them halfway.

“Queer artists have to work that much harder to prove their music can be accessible outside of queer audiences,” he says. “For the rest of my career, I’ll always be seen as the first trans mainstream music guy. If I allow that to predict my career, I won’t be successful. I’ll just continue to do what I do and be honest and open. People can take it or leave it.”

Silveira admits that when he’s at his unhappiest, his music flows out.  But he was thrilled at being named Sexiest Man in Canada by music magazine Chart Attack — or at least, had a good laugh.

“When I found out, I giggled. But I was happy to be nominated because it legitimized me as a rock male musician. And then I won! I thought this is hilarious if nothing for the fact that a trans man won.”


New Voices returns to COH

New voicesRarely do you expect a church concert with the following disclaimer: “Some language not suitable for all audiences.” I mean, as a gay-welcoming congregation, the Cathedral of Hope realizes its parishioners can’t always be pristine angels — a curse word might leak out here and there.

COH and Club 119 Productions brings back New Voices, a songwriter showcase benefiting the COH AIDS Crisis Fund featuring a cast of fresh-faced singers. Pastor Rusty Baldridge assures this isn’t going to be a service — hence the disclaimer. “Just think of it as a cabaret, but without the tables and chairs — and liquor.”

— R.L.

Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. $10.


This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas