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Barbra Streisand tackles Trump and LGBT equality on new album ‘Walls’ – Review

"An album of extraordinary power and beauty."

By Will Stroude

Words: Simon Button

It’s fitting that the first protest album of the Trump era should come from Barbra Streisand – an entertainer, philanthropist and LGBTQ ally entwined with the political left she counts Bill and Hilary Clinton as close personal friends.

You can imagine, then, how she felt when Donald defeated Hilary.

Except you don’t have to imagine anymore because Streisand – at 76 still so astonishingly in command of her own voice that listening to it takes your breath away – wears her heart on her sleeve with Walls.

The legend’s 36th studio album, it’s also one of her absolute best, fired by despair and anger amidst hope that, as she says in an opening statement in the accompanying booklet, “things can eventually turn around”.

No album could topple Trump from his tower of ego and hubris but by God, Babs goes for his jugular on first single ‘Don’t Lie To Me’. She doesn’t name him in the lyrics but it’s obvious who this impassioned attack on people who twist the truth and “build towers of bronze and gold” is aimed at.

It’s the stand-out track on a magnificently-orchestrated, soaringly-sung album that opens with Barbra promising to address ‘What’s On My Mind’. She’s enraged by ranting tweets and upset that a country that’s home to the Statue Of Liberty seems to have forgotten that everyone there is a child of immigrants.

The mother of a gay son and advocate for LGBTQ rights, she also declares ‘Love’s Never Wrong’ on a song that calls for acceptance of all races, religions and sexualities.

Cover versions of ‘Imagine’ and ‘What The World Needs Now’ sound an optimistic note, although the sigh that ends Streisand’s stunning new take on ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ suggests she doesn’t think those happy days will be here anytime soon.

The arrival of Walls, though, is a happy day for Babs fans. It’s an album of extraordinary power and beauty from the best singer of this, and indeed any, generation.

Rating: 5/5