Diana Krall's extraordinary new album, 'Glad Rag Doll' (Verve Records) is an exhilarating and adventurous exploration of new sounds, new instrumentation and new musicians. It stars a singer and piano player, filled with mischief, humour and a renewed sense of tenderness and intimacy.
The record reveals itself at that remarkable vanishing point in time where all music; swinging, rocking and taboo, collide with songs of longing, solace and regret. All are made new again in a vaudeville of Krall's own imagining. It is at once a major departure and a natural progression for the gifted musician. Diana simply calls the album, "a song and dance record". "We all just went in there as if the songs were written yesterday. I didn't want to make a period piece or nostalgia record," said Krall.
In fact, these are songs that Krall has spent a lifetime contemplating. Both her childhood home and her current address are stacked with 78rpm records and song folios filled with precious and unpolished gems, songs that have not worn out their lustre from repetition.
If any of these songs could be identified as "20's or 30's music", then they are 20's or 30's songs as imagined for the 21st Century. The same could be said for a startling rendition of the Doc Pomus classic, "Lonely Avenue", first cut in the 1950s.
The contemplative, contemporary reading of the old Gene Austin recording of "Let It Rain" finds a sympathetic echo in Krall's exquisite rendition of Buddy and Julie Miller's more recent ballad of spiritual longing, "Wide River To Cross".
Working for the first time with renowned producer T Bone Burnett and engineer Mike Piersante, Krall revels in a fresh sonic playground captured in the vivid grain and deep resonant focus of analog tape. Burnett has assembled a distinguished cast of remarkable men to complement Krall's piano contribution at an 1890s Steinway upright.
From the hushed to the howling, Marc Ribot's poised and sympathetic solo guitar accompaniment on the title track contrasts beautifully with a range of surprising sounds and colors.
As ever with a Diana Krall record, her distinctive feel and unique sense of time is crucial. She has established a new and exciting rhythmic rapport with drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist Dennis Crouch that has let loose some of her most joyous piano playing heard on record to date.
Among the new elements brought into the spontaneous arrangement process are the mysterious, sometimes comedic commentaries coming from the keyboards of Keefus Green.
Diana Krall has collaborated with Academy Award winning costume designer, Colleen Atwood and acclaimed photographer, Mark Seliger to create a series of beautiful and striking images for Krall's new album, "Glad Rag Doll". They are inspired by Alfred Cheney Johnston's pictures of the girls of the Ziegfeld Follies taken during the 1920s. You can hear Glad Rag Doll in its entirety, Friday at noon.