Diana Krall makes vintage material new on 'Glad Rag Doll'
New CDs released the week of Tuesday, Oct. 2, include Diana Krall's fresh and satisfying re-imagining of vintage material on "Glad Rag Doll"; Van Morrison's "Born to Sing"; "Fanatic," by Seattle rock group Heart; and Iris Dement's "Sing the Delta."
Diana Krall, 'Glad Rag Doll' (Verve)
Diana Krall, who grew up listening to her father's extensive record collection, has always tilted toward the vintage, from the intricate piano trios of Nat Cole to the dreamy pop strings of Claus Ogerman, so it's fitting that she has extended her reach here to two more bygone eras — the Roaring '20s and the rockabilly/Americana of the '50s and '60s. "Glad Rag Doll" is one of her freshest, most satisfying albums in years. That Krall, a consummate jazz singer, can re-imagine Annette Hanshaw's playful 1932 hit "We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye" or Gene Austin's megaphone-sincere 1926 croon (complete with ukulele) as lightly sweet and disarmingly sexy songs for today is no surprise. Ditto for the way she cuts right to the shattered heart of "Glad Rag Doll," which, for the killjoys out there kvetching about Krall posing in Ziegfeld underwear on the cover, is a lament, not a celebration, of a "painted lady."
But who knew Krall could sing rockabilly? Her light touch on Betty James' jaunty 1961 single "I'm a Little Mixed Up" hits the sweet spot, as does her tender rendition of the Western ballad "Prairie Lullaby," which I'm guessing she sings to her twin 5-year-olds at bedtime. Krall handles the triplet-driven rock 'n' roll slow-dance beat of "Let It Rain" with equal aplomb and the Doc Pomus classic "Lonely Avenue" will jolt Ray Charles fans with a blast of pleasurable recognition. By the time Krall gets to this heavily reverbed track, however, the occasionally overeager production doodads by T Bone Burnett have become a minor aggravation. But minor is the operative word. Krall has struck vintage gold here — again.
Paul de Barros, Seattle Times jazz critic
Other new releases
Van Morrison, "Born to Sing: No Plan B" (Exile)
Heart, "Fanatic" (Legacy)
Iris Dement, "Sing the Delta" (Flariella)