CD Review of The Very Best of Diana Krall by Diana Krall
Recommended if you like
Norah Jones, Astrud Gilberto,
Nat “King” Cole
Label
Verve
Diana Krall:
The Very Best of Diana Krall

Reviewed by Michael Fortes

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O
K, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Diana Krall is hot, and Elvis Costello is one lucky son of a bitch to have her as a wife. I mean, subtly sensual singer-pianist, blonde, gorgeous, what’s not to love? Who could resist that come-hither gaze on the front cover of her Love Scenes album? Surely that cover alone lured in more than a few male fans before even hearing a note of Krall’s music.

As luck would have it, the treat of hearing Krall turned out to be just as alluring as her good looks. And now, more than a dozen years after she started pumping some life into revivalist jazz vocals and making them marketable all over again, Krall’s career is reviewed on The Very Best of Diana Krall. While such a collection was certainly due, given Krall’s longevity and prolific output, this review is unfortunately falling into that bitchy category of compilation assessments, the ones that moan about the songs that were left off. Because nothings screams “I’m taking time off to spend time with my kids” louder than an unbalanced compilation released in time to stock the shelves for the holiday season.

Certainly, Krall’s output could have been better represented. She has had some thrilling up-tempo numbers spread across her discs, such as the finger-poppin’ “I’m an Errand Girl for Rhythm” on her Nat Cole tribute album All for You, or playful highlights like “Devil May Care” from When I Look in Your Eyes. And any of the tunes from her second album, Only Trust Your Heart, featuring Stanley Turrentine, are sure pleasers. None of these are here. Nothing is present from her excellent second album, nor are any songs from her best album, The Girl in the Other Room, which features a handful of original tunes co-written with her bespectacled husband. In other words, this collection is very light on anything beyond her most romantic sides from The Look of Love, Love Scenes, and When I Look in Your Eyes.

As it turns out, her monotonous LP The Look of Love has two entries here, which is two too many. Every song on that album sounds exactly the same – same tempo, same bossa nova beat, same strings, same approach across the board. That album is good for romantic dinners and that’s about it. If there had to be one, the title track would have been enough.

But oh, in cynical industry fashion, this collection is baited with previously unreleased material! We’ve come to expect that, but who would have expected that “You Go to My Head,” from the sessions for The Look of Love, is better than anything on the proper album? Taken at a lazy pace and foresaking the dominant bossa nova of the rest of the album, it turns out to be a highlight of this collection. And the other outtake featured here, “Only the Lonely,” similarly achieves The Look of Love’s goal of recreating that classic Sinatra torch song mood that the proper album didn’t quite do so well.

As a consolation prize for losing out on the songs from The Girl in the Other Room, an unreleased track from those sessions is included as well. It’s a cute take on Tom Waits’ “The Heart of Saturday Night,” though honestly, we would have been just fine with her better stab at the Waits tune that did make the album, “Temptation.” It was even released as a single!

Bottom line – there’s nothing truly “bad” on this disc, but it’s not the definitive single-disc collection of Krall’s work one would hope for. Stick with All for You or When I Look in Your Eyes for the best of her jazz and pop standards. And add The Girl in the Other Room if hearing Krall take her signature style off the beaten path with some originals and unlikely covers sounds like your cup of tea.

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