In the past, I’ve had nothing but good to say about Diana Krall. Her vocals are so honey smooth, and I love her approach to the standards and straight-ahead jazz. However, the Krall that I love to listen to is not the Krall you will hear singing on her latest album, Glad Rag Doll. I had heard that the tunes for this album come primarily from Krall’s father’s collection of 78-rpm records, with jazz tunes from the 1920s and 1930s. I know that the New Orleans or Chicago jazz of the 1920s and the New York jazz of 1930s was quite different from what most of us consider “jazz” today. Most of the “jazzy” vocal music of the 1920s and 1930s is probably more accurately described as the blues. I was actually a bit excited to hear Krall try out some blues; I [thought I] would love to hear Krall on some Bessie Smith hits!
Unfortunately, Krall’s latest album only comes off as vaguely bluesy. She takes on a rather boring selection of Tin Pan Alley pop; it’s not at all what I expect to hear from Krall. There are a few blues tunes, but Krall’s smooth vocal style turns out to be a bad match for those rusty tunes that require a bit more energy and emotion. Her vocal approach, which has worked for every jazz style she has tried up to this point, just doesn’t seem right. The other aspect that doesn’t sound right is what’s not coming from Krall: the back-up instrumentation is too loud and twangy to showcase the piano and vocal talent of Krall. For me, there were no songs that stood out as better or worse than the rest. This lack of reaction to Krall’s music is a particularly new and disappointing experience for me.
Glad Rag Doll is simply not the typical fare for Krall, and for some reason I find her completely uninteresting in this new realm. I can see why Krall might have wanted to branch out from her typical repertoire, but this album goes in the wrong direction. I also find the album cover particularly tasteless. Before listening to the album, I had considered purchasing it as a gift for my father. Fortunately, I did not, because I simply could not bring myself to give my father an album that depicts the 47-year-old Krall wearing a bustier and garter on the cover. I hope Krall returns to some more jazzy tunes and decent clothes for her next album. In the meantime, I’ll try to forget about this one.