Artist: Diana Krall
Album: Turn Up the Quiet
Release Date: 5.5.2017
Multi-Grammy Award winner Diana Krall doesn’t need to prove a thing at this point in her career. She’s returned to the style that made her popular to begin with, having experimented with the singer-songwriter style in partnership with her husband, Elvis Costello. She’s paid homage to her father’s extensive 78 record collection on two albums now. She’s even done a bossa nova record. But her career was built on interpretations of the great American songbook to which she returns here. This is the music she loves and listening to just a few notes will be all you need to convince you of that. As Krall says, “I have thought about these songs for a long time. Being in the company of some of my greatest friends in music allowed me to tell these stories just as I’d intended. Sometimes you just have to turn up the quiet to be heard a little better.”
Singing in a hushed, ever-so-sultry, oft times whispery style, you feel that Krall is speaking intimately to you in a quiet room. I’ve criticized engineers at times for not bringing the vocalist far enough up in the mix, but engineer Al Schmitt does a remarkable job here, one of the best I’ve ever heard. Yes, I know Krall takes her fair share of criticism too for being “middle of the road,” “background music,” or “utterly conventional.” Yet, who can argue with her fluid piano playing, her solid arrangements, or even her choice of material. These are great songs, and she has some of the best musicians on the planet surrounding her in three distinct bands as she plays bandleader. It’s a co-production with Tommy LiPuma, who helmed many of her acclaimed albums including All for You, The Look of Love, and Live in Paris.
The album begins with the hushed tones of “Like Someone in Love” and “Isn’t It Romantic” with Krall in a trio setting, accompanied by Christian McBride on bass and tender guitar picking by Russell Malone. They return for “Blue Skies” and “Dream,” which also features some nice orchestration from Alan Broadbent. A quintet carries the bluesy “Confessin’ That I Love You,” I’ll See You in My Dreams,” and “Moonglow.” This unit has Karriem Riggins on drums, Tony Garnier on bass, marvelous fiddle from Stuart Duncan, and melodic guitar soloing from Marc Ribot, especially on “Moonglow.” The third ensemble has guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton Jr., and drummer Jeff Hamilton—essentially Krall’s road band. Listen to “Sway” and be transported into a dreamy world you associate with only a jazz night club of yesteryear in the wee hours of the morning.
As one who has many Krall albums, I know this will undoubtedly satisfy her listeners who came aboard as she was building her career playing standards. I’d also suggest to those who are new to Krall or have been resisting her to do what I did. Put your headphones on at night and listen to the finesse and nuance of Krall here in the quiet. You can’t help but be impressed.