By Matt Kelemen
Within days of Barbra Streisand’s latest recording, Release Me, registering SoundScan data, it looked certain that she’d have her 32nd top 10 album—and, indeed, when Billboard published its album charts for the week of Oct. 27, she had accomplished the feat, placing ahead of debuts by Ellie Goulding and The Script. It’s clear that the 70-year-old singer has reached another career high in the final quarter of 2012. Streisand’s initial concerts in support of Release Me have been warmly received despite Babs having to soothe her throat with chicken soup between songs on at least one occasion. The holiday movie season finds her poised to top the box office as well if The Guilt Trip, in which she stars with Seth Rogen as a mom who hits the road with her inventor son, adds to the swell of attention on which Streisand currently surfs.
While Streisand hasn’t exactly been semi-retired, her album/tour/film trifecta proves she’s still got it. Her 2009 Diana Krall-produced album, Love Is the Answer, debuted at No. 1, so she’s more likely measuring Release Me against her own catalog than comparing herself to Mumford & Sons. We haven’t seen her act in film since 2010’s Little Fockers, but The Guilt Trip precedes Streisand’s return to feature directing when she guides Cate Blanchette and Colin Firth in Skinny and Cat (out in 2014). And while no one doubts Streisand’s continuing command of the concert stage, Las Vegas is one of the places where she gives some of her most inspired performances. She may have many more miles to go, but her hard-core fans surely appreciate the opportunity to once again immerse themselves in all things Barbra.