In 1996, Diana Krall established herself as an unique jazz vocalist and pianist when she released “All for You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio”. It was a special jazz album, unlike anything her peers were up to, and it showed Krall was an adept female jazz crooner. Krall followed up that album with three good dates “Love Scenes,” “When I Look in Your Eyes,” and “The Look of Love”.
Around 2002, Krall became a crossover hit. She wed a rock legend. Her 2009 “Quiet Nights” shot up the Billboard chart and won a Grammy. Krall’s crossover success had many of her fans betting if she would ever return to her jazz roots. The smart money said Krall wouldn’t.
Last Tuesday, Verve Records released Krall’s 12th studio album “Glad Rag Doll”. Famed producer/songwriter T-Bone Burnett—who’s worked with Bob Dylan, Elton John, Tony Bennett, and Krall’s husband Elvis Costello—produced “the date. That was the first time Burnett and Krall collaborated. The album doesn’t mark Krall’s return to her jazz roots, but it’s more memorable than her recent output.
Burnett pushed Krall to take some risks that fortunately worked. For instance, trying slicker instrumental arrangements, and performing with musicians Krall doesn’t have a history with. Burnett made good use of Krall’s gift for interpreting songs of bygone eras. Some of the cuts on “Glad Rag Doll” are from the 20’s and 30’s, and oddly, the album comes across as a blues and a country album.
On her official website, Krall explains the goal was not to make a period album, but that’s exactly what “Glad Rag Doll” is, which is good because Krall knows how to take an old, moldy song and present it in mint condition.
The standouts are the title cut, “Let It Rain,” “Here Lies Love,” and “Lonely Avenue” all of which Krall sings at a lullaby tempo. Right down to the racy cover art, “Glad Rag Doll” is a welcomed departure from the boarderline pop albums Krall has put out in recent years.