DIANA KRALL, GLAD RAG DOLL

Diana Krall’s crossover appeal is undeniable. She was in fine form for her June stop in Lancaster, PA on her Summer Nights 2012 concert tour, charming the crowd with stories of her childhood in Vancouver while interspersing her typically deft renditions of standards, show tunes and Brazilian songs from her best-selling albums. Krall projects an elegance and sophistication on stage, her persona wrapped in a wry, knowing sensuality, but she’s quick to remind her audience that she’s just a small town girl who made it, sharing self-deprecating stories about being a mom to twin boys and her life with husband Elvis Costello. Most touching though were her interludes about the old tunes that she and her father would listen to on LPs during her visits home, songs of the 20’s and 30’s by Bix Beiderbecke and others that are not quite standards but nonetheless populist music played with cheer and barroom enthusiasm. Curiously, Ms Krall didn’t mention that these tunes would be the focus of “Glad Rag Doll” (Verve).

On “Doll,” Krall presses the pause button, putting her jazz combo, strings, lush standards and Claus Ogerman arrangements on hold, in the same way that her 2004 release “The Girl In The Other Room” bluntly departed from the Great American Songbook. Krall calls the new album her “song and dance record,” a surprising effort that introduces us to the stripped down pleasures of analog style tunes by Doc Pomus and other rough-hewn gems from lesser-known songwriters.  Produced by T-Bone Burnett (“Oh Brother, Where Art Thou”) “Doll” brings guitarists Marc Ribot, Burnett and Howard Coward together with bassist Dennis Crouch, guitarists Bryan Sutton and Colin Linden, drummer Jay Bellerose and keyboardist Keefus Green.

With charismatic aplomb and a mean stride piano technique, Krall takes to these tavern style songs with an easy conviction. Guitarist Ribot is a notable soloist and known among the avant-garde jazz scene, and his role here is to add both authenticity and a veneer of electric guitar grunge (“There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears”) with fuzz tones dialed high into the mix. Krall enthralls on sweet natured songs with expressive titles (“Just Like A Butterfly That’s Caught In The Rain,”) wistful interludes (“Wide River To Cross,”) optimistic ditties (“You Know – Everything’s Made For Love”) and the very pretty title tune, spare in its instrumentation yet emotionally ripe.

With her superstar status and record sales to match, Krall trades her chanteuse image for a new one that takes its cue from the album’s cover photograph, one that’s sure to raise eyebrows. Yet, there’s plenty to enjoy and appreciate here. You’ll have to put away the chardonnay or pinot this time out – “Glad Rag Doll” remakes Diana Krall as a bourbon and blues singer and a fine one at that. (13 tracks; 58:08 minutes)
Note: The online version version of this review differs from the print edition in ICON Magazine. Arranger Johnny Mandel was replaced with Claus Ogerman.

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JAZZ IN SPACE: DIANA KRALL, GLAD RAG DOLL

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

DIANA KRALL, GLAD RAG DOLL

Diana Krall’s crossover appeal is undeniable. She was in fine form for her June stop in Lancaster, PA on her Summer Nights 2012 concert tour, charming the crowd with stories of her childhood in Vancouver while interspersing her typically deft renditions of standards, show tunes and Brazilian songs from her best-selling albums. Krall projects an elegance and sophistication on stage, her persona wrapped in a wry, knowing sensuality, but she’s quick to remind her audience that she’s just a small town girl who made it, sharing self-deprecating stories about being a mom to twin boys and her life with husband Elvis Costello. Most touching though were her interludes about the old tunes that she and her father would listen to on LPs during her visits home, songs of the 20’s and 30’s by Bix Beiderbecke and others that are not quite standards but nonetheless populist music played with cheer and barroom enthusiasm. Curiously, Ms Krall didn’t mention that these tunes would be the focus of “Glad Rag Doll” (Verve).

On “Doll,” Krall presses the pause button, putting her jazz combo, strings, lush standards and Claus Ogerman arrangements on hold, in the same way that her 2004 release “The Girl In The Other Room” bluntly departed from the Great American Songbook. Krall calls the new album her “song and dance record,” a surprising effort that introduces us to the stripped down pleasures of analog style tunes by Doc Pomus and other rough-hewn gems from lesser-known songwriters.  Produced by T-Bone Burnett (“Oh Brother, Where Art Thou”) “Doll” brings guitarists Marc Ribot, Burnett and Howard Coward together with bassist Dennis Crouch, guitarists Bryan Sutton and Colin Linden, drummer Jay Bellerose and keyboardist Keefus Green.

With charismatic aplomb and a mean stride piano technique, Krall takes to these tavern style songs with an easy conviction. Guitarist Ribot is a notable soloist and known among the avant-garde jazz scene, and his role here is to add both authenticity and a veneer of electric guitar grunge (“There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears”) with fuzz tones dialed high into the mix. Krall enthralls on sweet natured songs with expressive titles (“Just Like A Butterfly That’s Caught In The Rain,”) wistful interludes (“Wide River To Cross,”) optimistic ditties (“You Know – Everything’s Made For Love”) and the very pretty title tune, spare in its instrumentation yet emotionally ripe.

With her superstar status and record sales to match, Krall trades her chanteuse image for a new one that takes its cue from the album’s cover photograph, one that’s sure to raise eyebrows. Yet, there’s plenty to enjoy and appreciate here. You’ll have to put away the chardonnay or pinot this time out – “Glad Rag Doll” remakes Diana Krall as a bourbon and blues singer and a fine one at that. (13 tracks; 58:08 minutes)
Note: The online version version of this review differs from the print edition in ICON Magazine. Arranger Johnny Mandel was replaced with Claus Ogerman.

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