Album Review: Diana Krall – Glad Rag Doll
Canadian Jazz maestro and vocal songstress Diana Krall reignites the flame of easy listening Jazz once again this month with the release of her 11th studio record, Glad Rag Doll, an album which sees Krall uniting her distinctive vocal tones with a collection of some of music’s finest pennings from the 20’s and 30’s to create a track listing of 13 revived and polished gems and adding her seductive and engaging touch to each.
Upon first glance of the new record it would appear that Krall has taken a ‘sex sells’ approach to marketing as we are presented with a scantily clad songbird draped over red velvet in all but some rather revealing black lingerie however, don’t judge a CD buy its sleeve as the contents within are anything but sex driven. Although a covers collection Glad Rag Doll reveals itself to be, over a running time of just shy of an hour, a record that could easily be one of Krall’s best work to date.
Having delivered to us over a dozen records in her time Krall is a musician who continues to blur the line between unhip jazz and commercial cool to a point where she seems to rope in fans of all generations with her ability to serenade and rock at the same time, holding on to an older audience with her sultry and undiscriminating musical approach while also appealing to the youthful masses and the new album offers further evidence of Krall’s seemingly effortless ability to do so. With a perfectly selected choice of covers that the singer grew up listening to, the record offers a nostalgic glance back on music for Krall’s older fans while introducing some iconic yet also obscure pennings to a younger generation.
Starting the new album off is We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye, a rich opener brimming with a raw vintage structure as Krall’s vocals drip in a beautifully sentimental tone, unfolding a sweet love story around a classic piano lead instrumentation crafting an unforgettable intro to Glad Rag Doll.
There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears really has to be one of the greatest and most frank song titles out there and it’s not just the title that lays down the law here. Throughout its boppy 4 minute lifespan the track is lyrically honest as the number unleashes a scorned Krall who reveals some harsh lessons in love and who sings with as much confidence and self respect as the title declares and deserves. The track has definitely held up well over the years thanks to gorgeous covers like this one.
You Know, I Know, Everything’s Made For Love is a fine addition to Glad Rag Doll with its playful piano tinkering which slip and slid around a foundation of engaging double bass lines and its complimenting yet subtle guitar picked opening makes this track one of the finer moments on the new record.
Further into Glad Rag Doll the tone begins to mellow out slightly with the title track which pulls the momentum back for a syrupy ballad before Krall raises the tempo on the following I’m A Little Mixed Up, an addition that allows Krall to show off her diversity as an artist, taking on a slight country approach on a clear album highlight. As well as the delivery of the track, something which stands out on this number is the songs production and structure as it starts off as a vocally drenched ditty within its opening half before Krall hands the reigns over to her band to play us out in the latter half allowing the song to be both a vocal and instrumental center point to the album.
Over the course of the hour Krall’s vocal skills radiate over some of the finest instrumentation I have heard of a Diana Krall release to date, even challenging the stars mid-career peaks, When I Look In Your Eyes and The Look Of Love.
Whether it’s the gentle serenading of the albums title track, the quirky, diverse and appropriately titled closing of When the Curtain Comes Down or the upbeat sweetness of “I’m A Little Mixed Up” that do it for you, Glad Rag Doll is a record that ticks all the right boxes when it comes to vocals, instrumentation, songwriting and production and one that continues to showcase Krall as a true conqueror of all that defines a successful crossover artist.