Dreamy, gently swaying, cocktail bar music making given the glossiest of productions
Michael Quinn 2009
It was only a matter of time before Diana Krall turned her attention to bossa nova, but the result, now that it’s here, makes you wish she had got there a little sooner.
Surrounding herself with a crack quartet – Anthony Wilson on guitar, John Clayton on bass, and percussionists John Clayton and Paulinho Da Costa – backed by a Claus Ogerman-led orchestra, Krall turns Quiet Nights into a “love letter for my husband” aka Elvis Costello, with a meticulously manicured production co-authored by Krall herself and Tommy LiPuma.
She owes a double debt to Ogerman, whose strings-saturated arrangements ooze with a seriously sensuous, impeccably crafted sophistication. Mixing bossa nova classics with jazz standards, Krall lowers her voice to virtually sub-sonic levels to deliver husky, half-whispered but deliciously sultry performances so packed with sentimental billet doux that half way through it all threatens to congeal into one intrusive, gelatinous mass.
This is dreamy, gently swaying, cocktail bar music making given the glossiest of productions. As such, it works best when listened to with half an ear (and probably at 4am in the morning). It’s then Krall’s sotto voce approach comes into its own; I’ve Grown Accustomed to His Face, So Nice, Too Marvellous for Words and You’re My Thrill all becoming enviously intimate confessionals.
Krall even turns The Boy From Ipanema into a torch song that pads and prowls with deliberately underplayed intent while the title track is all brooding desire and wish fulfilment. But when the approach goes wrong, it borders on turning the Bacharach/David classic Walk On By into a curiously anaemic apology.
Limited edition discs also carry two bonus tracks: a surprisingly effective cover of the Bee Gees’ How Can You Mend A Broken Heart and a pared back, paced down version of Cole Porter’s Every Time We Say Goodbye.
It’s not what you might expect of Krall or, for that matter, bossa nova, and nor is it jazz, but in its own deliberately dissipated dreaminess it has an obvious understated allure all of its own.