47 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Go back to the piano -- and to jazz, Diana. Puh-LEEZE!!,
This review is from: Glad Rag Doll (MP3 Music)
I'll say right up front that I've been a fan of Diana Krall's for almost as long as she's been recording. She has a gift for interpretation, no doubt, and that's important in jazz and blues. She has the chops, and she has the pipes. I've also no doubt that she can sing blues ... but this album of songs from the '20s and '30s is neither/nor. Rather, it sounds like she watched one too many episodes of Boardwalk Empire in a row, got depressed and wallowed in the fake-happy cynicism of the music of that era (especially as presented in that series, which worked there but doesn't here), then decided to record some while she was still feeling really bummed. Which left **me** bummed and wishing she'd return to her wonderful piano playing, if this is all we can expect from her vocal choices now.
Have I always liked her choices? No, not always, but I always respected them and understood what she was trying to do. Until now. Does it work this time? Not so much. A pretty cynical move putting her in lingerie, too, like she was one of the dance-hall girls back then; but I couldn't care less about the cover, really, as long as the music's good ... and this time, it's well done but still grossly underwhelming. She wasted herself on this.
Like a few other excellent pianists who discovered they could sing and garnered a much larger audience that way -- Nat Cole and Harry Connick Jr. come to mind -- Krall seems to have forgotten her piano playing (unlike, for example, the magnificent Shirley Horn). Krall has an inventive keyboard style that always pulls you in and delivers, whether she's playing jazz or blues, but it's gone or lost here amid all this heavy melancholia. I love her ballads, but not here. Instead of wrenching your heart, they simply drag you down. If you're disappointed in this, give a listen for comparison to All Night Long on Only Trust Your Heart, Clint Eastwood's Why Should I Care from When I Look In Your Eyes, or, for that matter, the previously recorded Garden In The Rain from Love Scenes -- which she did so beautifully on that album that I'm puzzled why she rerecorded it for this album with such morbid results. She knows how to do a heartbreaking song when she wants to; I'm thinking of Goodbye on the Charlie Haden Quartet West album Sophisticated Ladies. But this? Feh!
If Krall wanted something that called back to Prohibition or the Depression era, she'd have done better to have taken her cue from Lil Hardin Armstrong and Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Kid Ory or the piano players of the era: Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Willie 'The Lion' Smith, Art Tatum, Earl 'Fatha' Hines, Mary Lou Williams. Seriously. There was more than enough good music back then to make a suicidal album like this unnecessary.
In fact, the more I listen and think about it, the more I conclude that what all these songs wish they could sound like is the moving Cry Me A River from The Look of Love, which has the same sensibility as most of these songs but is much better done (and doesn't wallow in its misery). We know you can do it better, Diana ... so go back to the studio and show us, yes? This ain't it. Oh, and get a better set of sidemen, too; dump the twangy stuff and get back to a real jazz trio behind you.
Final grade: D for depressing. Buy one of her earlier ones instead.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 20, 2012 12:57:37 PM PST
Patrick C. Myatt says:
Posted on Jan 3, 2013 8:00:43 AM PST
mary ann broadus says:
Really enjoyed your review, beautifully expressed & thoughtful...Mary Ann Broadus
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2013 2:06:42 AM PST
John Redman says:
I too have been a great fan of Diana Krall since she first released "Stepping Out" in 1993 but this latest CD is not for me. I would hazard a guess that her main fan base loved her early releases when jazz standards were mainly on the menu. I wonder if Elvis Costello is influencing her choices now. I've never been a fan of his. Bring back the old Diana, pianist and vocalist extraordinaire.Many of my Easy Jazz radio show listeners seem to agree with me on this.
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