June 14, 2024

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At times, Diana Krall looks out of her comfort zone: Video

16.11. – Happy Birthday !!! Being a new mother of twins must play havoc with recording sessions. So, it’s not surprising that Canadian singer Diana Krall has chosen to leave the Steinway buried under babygros for the time being, and release her first volume of greatest hits.

Of her dozen albums, six are represented here, including The Look of Love and When I Look in Your Eyes featuring the London Symphony Orchestra; and Christmas Songs with bassist John Clayton’s orchestra. These orchestral arrangements are at the schmaltzy end of the spectrum, but thankfully they’re balanced by a fine selection of trio and quartet numbers. The bluesy “Frim Fram Sauce” and David Frishberg’s “Peel Me A Grape” ooze attitude and sexiness. Diana’s piano accompaniment is carefully controlled and her occasional solos have a spark of sassiness in their bold changes of rhythm and mood.

Disappointingly, none of the tracks written by Ms Krall and her husband Elvis Costello (and previously released on The Girl In The Other Room) appear on the CD, but they are on a limited edition bonus DVD. Diana really seems to connect with these songs. The title track is sung with feeling, sometimes in mumbles and whispers, and her piano solo mixes lyrical runs with funky swing. “Narrow Daylight” is a moving singer-songwriter ballad – catchy without being commercial – and makes the most of Ms Krall’s smoky vocals, while “Almost Blue” is sultry and raw: played against wintry outdoor scenes from Diana’s native Vancouver Island.

At times, Diana looks out of her comfort zone in the videos here. In “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” she breezes uncomfortably between lovey-dovey couples at a posh party, and, although there’s no questioning the musicianship, the live sessions filmed in a living room seem staged and wooden.

Every Best Of' album has to include a handful of previously unreleased tracks, and this one is no exception. Taken from <em>The Look of Love</em>sessions, Diana's voice is dark and seductive on "You Go to My Head" and "Only The Lonely", though the intense mood is interrupted by the appearance of a string section. Refreshingly orchestra-free, Tom Waits' "The Heart Of Saturday Night", from sessions forThe Girl In The Other Room’, is a countrified, guitar-led ballad that brings out a seldom-heard lighter timbre in Diana’s voice.

If you’re not one of the 14 million people who already has a Diana Krall CD, The Very Best of Diana Krall is a perfect starter set for you (and good value at 24 tracks!). The rest of us will wait to see what her post-motherhood return to the recording studio brings…

It was only a matter of time before Diana Krall turned her attention to bossa nova, but the result, now that it’s here, makes you wish she had got there a little sooner.

Surrounding herself with a crack quartet – Anthony Wilson on guitar, John Clayton on bass, and percussionists John Clayton and Paulinho Da Costa – backed by a Claus Ogerman-led orchestra, Krall turns Quiet Nights into a “love letter for my husband” aka Elvis Costello, with a meticulously manicured production co-authored by Krall herself and Tommy LiPuma.

She owes a double debt to Ogerman, whose strings-saturated arrangements ooze with a seriously sensuous, impeccably crafted sophistication. Mixing bossa nova classics with jazz standards, Krall lowers her voice to virtually sub-sonic levels to deliver husky, half-whispered but deliciously sultry performances so packed with sentimental billet doux that half way through it all threatens to congeal into one intrusive, gelatinous mass.

This is dreamy, gently swaying, cocktail bar music making given the glossiest of productions. As such, it works best when listened to with half an ear (and probably at 4am in the morning). It’s then Krall’s sotto voce approach comes into its own; I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face, So Nice, Too Marvellous for Words and You’re My Thrill all becoming enviously intimate confessionals.

Krall even turns The Boy From Ipanema into a torch song that pads and prowls with deliberately underplayed intent while the title track is all brooding desire and wish fulfilment. But when the approach goes wrong, it borders on turning the Bacharach/David classic Walk On By into a curiously anaemic apology.

Limited edition discs also carry two bonus tracks: a surprisingly effective cover of the Bee Gees’ How Can You Mend A Broken Heart and a pared back, paced down version of Cole Porter’s Every Time We Say Goodbye.

It’s not what you might expect of Krall or, for that matter, bossa nova, and nor is it jazz, but in its own deliberately dissipated dreaminess it has an obvious understated allure all of its own.

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