It's hard to think of Barbra Streisand recording anything that wouldn't get released, but with 2021's Release Me 2, she has put together a gorgeous collection of rare and previously unreleased recordings going back the beginnings of her studio career. A companion album to 2012's Release Me, Release Me 2 again features recordings Streisand made that, for a variety of reasons, were never included on their intended albums. It's a deeply felt, well-curated album that finds Streisand applying her distinctive style to melodies by a bevy of iconic songwriters, such as Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Barry Gibb, and others. Adding to the wealth of material are the superb arrangements by such longtime Streisand associates as Don Costa, Walter Afanasieff, Michel Legrand, and more. Some tracks, like her duet with Willie Nelson on "I'd Want It to Be with You" (initially intended for inclusion on 2014's Partners), were only partly finished and given a final polish in 2020. Others, like 1962's "Right as Rain" (recorded for 1963's The Barbra Streisand Album), are presented as they were originally intended, capturing the then-20-year-old singer in her effusive rise to stardom. Elsewhere, we get other delights, including a 1979 duet with Kermit the Frog on "Rainbow Connection," a 1971 rendition of Randy Newman's "Living Without You" left off of Stoney End, and an emotive take on Carole King's "You Light Up My Life" recorded for 1974's Butterfly with some final studio additions done in 2020. As with the first Release Me volume, Release Me 2 is much more than a rarities compilation and feels like a classic Streisand album rediscovered.
Release Me, Vol. 2 Review
by Matt Collar
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