On her previous album, 2009’s Quiet Night, Canadian pianist/vocalist Diana Krall dabbled in bossa nova. This time around she’s used her father’s old 78 record collection as inspiration and recorded songs that date back to the 1920s and 30s, at least most of them do. Krall has employed producer T Bone Burnett and his crack band to set the mood and Burnett’s sound is the perfect match for these songs.
The core band that Krall and Burnett use here is drummer Jay Bellerose, bass player Dennis Crouch, keyboard player Keefus Ciancia and guitarist Marc Ribot. Of course Krall’s own piano playing gets plenty of attention as well, starting with the opening track, We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye. Krall’s vocal take here is lighter and more playful than usual and Burnett’s production has his trademark dusty ol’ groove that fits the song so well.
There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears follows and Marc Ribot whips out his electric guitar for some down and dirty playing. The rest of the band follow suit giving the track a rickety, old-fashioned feel. It makes me think that Tom Waits should let Burnett produce his next album. Of course Ribot has been playing with Waits for years, so it makes sense.
Krall’s hubby, Elvis Costello, billed here as Howard Coward (Elvis previously recorded with Burnett as The Coward Brothers), shows up on several tracks. He plays ukulele and sings on You Know – I Know Everything’s Made For Love and plays guitar on the country-ish Wide River To Cross.
Not all of the songs are ancient. Doc Pomus’ Lonely Avenue, made famous by Ray Charles, gets a workout and winds up being one of the album’s best tracks. Krall’s piano playing is at its most inventive here and Ribot, Costello and Burnett all strap on guitars to conjure up a dark, swampy mood.
Another newer song is Betty James’ I’m A Little Mixed Up which finds Krall playing some rockin’ piano and features Canadian blues guitarist Colin Linden.
Krall’s vocals are certainly satisfactory here although she does lack a certain something in her voice to help it stand out as unique. The same cannot be said for her playing, she finds just the right style for each song and with collaborations from the likes of T Bone Burnett and Marc Ribot, its difficult not to admire Glad Rag Doll.
Click here to listen to There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears from Glad Rag Doll: