Dianna Krall T Boned

Glad Rag Doll
by Dinna Krall

Reviewed by Victor Enns

 I have a great deal of respect for T Bone Burnett as a producer and a musician going back to his days with the Rolling Thunder Reveue and Bob Dylan, and more recently for a string of stellar productions for other artists. Why he hasn’t been able to make his own break through album I don’t know – but I keep buying them in hope, including The Criminal Under My Own Hat, which I liked better than the one before that.

The attraction here, though, is a stripped down Dianna Krall, literally in the photographs accompanying the cd (yes I still buy them), down to a bustier and stockings, and figuratively in the accompanying arrangements.  The only big band, lushly produced album of hers I truly love is The Look of Love, preferring her work with trios, quartets and quintets exemplified by the Cole Porter tribute  It’s All for You and especially in The Girl Next Door, where she completely eclipses her husband’s version of “Almost Blue. ”

The cd is called Glad Rag Doll, $15.00 at McNally Robinson’s and much cheaper than her commanding $150 MTS Centre tickets, especially if I want to keep buying books.

It’s interesting to compare what Norah Jones (Little Broken Hearts) and Diana Krall have done to look for new avenues of expression and sales. Jones’s new record is produced by Danger Mouse, and sounds like, well, Danger Mouse, a comfortable sound for the younger audience lighting candles for their dinner dates.

Glad Rag Doll is also very much a T Bone Burnett record, with a larger musical vocabulary. But a lot of what we hear here, has to do with the music that Diana brought to the session. It’s the music she listened to with her father as a child. Music on 78’s from the 20s and 30s, a combination of ballads, lullabies (she has twin 6-year-olds), vaudeville, tin-pan alley standards, with a dash of country & roots – like the absolutely killer version of “Lonely Avenue” written originally by Doc Pomis. with T Bone laying in some lovely fuzz guitar.

Think Ry Cooder’s Jazz, think Rosanna Cash’s The List, in the context of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings most recently release, Kings and Queens. Colin Linden appears on this album, as does Elvis Costello (listed as Howard Coward).  The bulk of the musical authority though, I would say comes from Krall’s innovative piano playing interpreting songs that have never been mined before, combined with Tom Wait’s guitarist Marc Ribot’s astute and understated playing, and a stand-out stand-up bass contribution by Dennis Crouch.

I’d love her to do a version of Bruce Cockburn’s “Mama Just Wants to Barrel-house All Night Long” on his 1973 album Night Vision. It would be just perfect. A perfect partner to “Love me like a Man.”  Juicy music for everyone, but hey, encouraging Music for Men Over  Fifty. Elvis Costello is a year older than I am, at 58, though Krall has a few years to reach the magic of 50 , already crested by my other musical goddesses Chrissie Hynde, Emmy Lou Harris and Bonnie Raitt. Oh, Linda, I’m all grown up!

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