Barbra Streisand: ‘Trump is corrupt and indecent and is assaulting our institutions’

The 76-year-old’s new album is a rebuke to the president – and a startling return to form. Years of misogyny, however, have prepared her for the backlash

Of all the reasons there are to love Barbra Streisand – and if you find that proposition contentious, I encourage you to stop reading and do something else – the quickest and easiest can be found in the answer she gives to the first question I ask her. Streisand, speaking on the phone from her home in LA, is about to release Walls, her first album of primarily original songs since 2005 and for which she has written the bulk of material. The lyrics are sharp and political, the arrangements are strong, but it is the vocals that are the most surprising: crisp, forceful, with none of the mellowing one might expect of a 76-year-old artist who on recent albums has seemed muted. I mention this to her – how great she sounds – and she bursts out laughing and says: “I know! I swear to God, I don’t know where my voice came from. I would come out of the studio and [the technicians] would go, ‘How the hell?’ And I don’t know, I don’t know! It just came out of me!”

One doesn’t look to Streisand for modesty, of course, but there is something deeply gratifying, in this moment of heightened alertness to female social conditioning, about the fact that she has never once been known to demur. Streisand does not do little-me-ism. She is – in the language most people now recognise as coded to undermine women – strident, abrasive, political in a way that frequently upsets or prompts the rolling of eyes. In her art as in life, she can be very, very loud.

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