Pauline Kael once took note of some romantic musical numbers in a Marx Brothers film that were intended, according to a movie executive, "for people to identify with." "What people?" she sensibly asked. One can only imagine what Kael might have to say about A Love Like Ours, a Barbra Streisand self-celebration disguised as a paean to her romance with hubby James Brolin (The Car). "When love like ours arrives, we guard it with our lives," Streisand emotes on the disc's near-title track, unavoidably bringing to mind an early South Park episode's battle against a monster-robot version of the superstar. Draped in gauzy arrangements and the occasional "soulful" (her word) Kenny G sax solo, Streisand even manages to make a few truly great songs ("The Music That Makes Me Dance", "Isn't It a Pity?") sound overbearing in this context. --Rickey Wright
The disc's biggest asset is Barbra's voice - she sounds absolutely incredible! I thought she sounded great on HIGHER GROUND, but here she sounds even better. Without a doubt, this is the best she has sounded since her peak-years in the early `80's. She has also selected a slate of songs that are significantly stronger than on some of her past pop outings. The production is also well done - even with seven producers credited, it sounds remarkably cohesive for this type of record. Many of the best tracks were produced by Barbra herself, including the hit "I've Dreamed Of You" (#24 Pop), the lovely "Wait" (which was written by Michael Legrand and the Bergmans), and Barbra's fantastic new rendition of the FUNNY GIRL standard "The Music That Makes Me Dance," which easily eclipses the original 1964 version.
Barbra successfully ventures into some new territory with her delightful, jazz-infused cover of country music star George Strait's "We Must Be Loving Right," and country vocalist Vince Gill drops by for the Richard Marx-penned "If You Ever Leave Me," which is an above-average MOR recording. Even Walter Afanasieff (whose work I don't always care for) comes up a winner with the blissfully sensual track "The Island." My personal favorite tracks were produced by Arif Mardin - "It Must Be You," written by Steve Dorff and Stephanie Smith and "Just One Lifetime," by Melissa Manchester and Tom Snow. Both songs are soaring ballads (with just the right amount of sentiment), and Barbra performance of these songs are two of the best vocals she's given since 1985's THE BROADWAY ALBUM.
Unfortunately, most music critics unfairly panned the album (most of their negative comments focused on the gushy photos of Streisand and husband James Brolin rather than on the actual music itself), and it is usually not considered one of her best efforts. However, the well-chosen songs and outstanding vocals actually make it a slightly better album than HIGHER GROUND, and most listeners would highly enjoy it if they would focus on A LOVE LIKE OURS' music and not it's packaging.