Emblazoned across my advance copy of Heartdrops is a huge black-and-white sticker that boldly declares this "THE LOST TAPE!" According to the rather hyperbolic liner notes, this Zurich meeting of Diana Krall and trombonist-composer-arranger Vince Benedetti (who met Krall by accident while moonlighting as a cab driver) has remained buried for more than a dozen years. Perhaps Krall might've preferred for it to stay underground.
Not that Krall's performances of the seven Benedetti originals included here are in any way lacking. Echoes of the smoky chanteuse to come are evident throughout, and her piano solos are mightily impressive. The trouble is the material. Benedetti, it seems, found God before finding Krall in the back of his taxi. His corny, New Age lyrics suggest an exaggerated Jazz-for-Jesus earnestness. "Sunshine Express" urges us to travel the road to righteousness. "Your Destiny" also instructs us to get on the right spiritual path. "Who Are You?" issues the same warning (with such clunky lines as "Throw off some things/Put on your wings"). "My Love" (definitely not to be confused with the Petula Clark hit) tells of born-again salvation, decrying "I'm nothing but your slave, but see it makes me free.") Though the depth and breadth of Benedetti's faith (or, for that matter, Krall's) is absolutely none of my business, the album's all a bit too Tammy Faye for my liking.
We're meant to herald Heartdrops as a landmark addition to the Krall oeuvre. Instead, I'll remember it as the disc that introduced me to guitarist-vocalist Martien Oster. Though, unfortunately, Oster never gets to sing solo, he does team with Krall for several duets. The blend of their voices is exquisite (dare I say heavenly?)-almost as beautiful as his tender guitar caresses.