Mrs Costello keeps the royalties flowing while raising the sprogs!
Kathryn Shackleton 2007
Being a new mother of twins must play havoc with recording sessions. So, it's not surprising that Canadian singer Diana Krall has chosen to leave the Steinway buried under babygros for the time being, and release her first volume of greatest hits.
Of her dozen albums, six are represented here, including The Look of Love and When I Look in Your Eyes featuring the London Symphony Orchestra; and Christmas Songs with bassist John Clayton's orchestra. These orchestral arrangements are at the schmaltzy end of the spectrum, but thankfully they're balanced by a fine selection of trio and quartet numbers. The bluesy "Frim Fram Sauce" and David Frishberg's "Peel Me A Grape" ooze attitude and sexiness. Diana's piano accompaniment is carefully controlled and her occasional solos have a spark of sassiness in their bold changes of rhythm and mood.
Disappointingly, none of the tracks written by Ms Krall and her husband Elvis Costello (and previously released on The Girl In The Other Room) appear on the CD, but they are on a limited edition bonus DVD. Diana really seems to connect with these songs. The title track is sung with feeling, sometimes in mumbles and whispers, and her piano solo mixes lyrical runs with funky swing. "Narrow Daylight" is a moving singer-songwriter ballad - catchy without being commercial - and makes the most of Ms Krall's smoky vocals, while "Almost Blue" is sultry and raw: played against wintry outdoor scenes from Diana's native Vancouver Island.
At times, Diana looks out of her comfort zone in the videos here. In "Let's Face the Music and Dance" she breezes uncomfortably between lovey-dovey couples at a posh party, and, although there's no questioning the musicianship, the live sessions filmed in a living room seem staged and wooden.
Every `Best Of' album has to include a handful of previously unreleased tracks, and this one is no exception. Taken from The Look of Love sessions, Diana's voice is dark and seductive on "You Go to My Head" and "Only The Lonely", though the intense mood is interrupted by the appearance of a string section. Refreshingly orchestra-free, Tom Waits' "The Heart Of Saturday Night", from sessions for `The Girl In The Other Room', is a countrified, guitar-led ballad that brings out a seldom-heard lighter timbre in Diana's voice.
If you're not one of the 14 million people who already has a Diana Krall CD, The Very Best of Diana Krall is a perfect starter set for you (and good value at 24 tracks!). The rest of us will wait to see what her post-motherhood return to the recording studio brings....