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San Diego songwriter Steve Poltz is hard to peg. He’s best known for his work with Jewel, co-writing her sappy 1996 hit “You Were Meant for Me.” You’d think that sentence says it all (specifically, it says, “I’ll pass”). But he recorded a whole record of 45-second answering machine records. And it’s one of Neil Young’s favorite albums. Okay, I’m interested again. He’s recorded songs for gooey romantic comedies, but his indie post-punk band inspired a Weird Al song. If nothing else, the man must have a very eclectic Rolodex.
He leans towards his sappier side on his new album Dreamhouse with Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were,” the title song to the 1973 movie. It’s schmaltzy as heck, but it’s well-crafted schmaltz. Put it this way: if the schmaltz-instrumentation continuum runs from acoustic guitar to synthesized orchestra, this falls to the former. Naming it one of the 100 best songs of all time seems a stretch (I’m looking at you, Billboard), but in Poltz’s tender delivery it’s perfect for a vulnerable moment.