Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Diana Krall: Wallflower

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Over the years, the career-arc similarities of Diana Krall and Nat King Cole have often been cited: how Krall, like Cole, started out as purely a jazz pianist; how singing was, at first, strictly a sideline; and how vocal prowess proved the catalyst for major stardom. By the mid-’50s, Cole had shifted almost entirely from jazz artist to pop stylist, albeit one with keen jazz instincts. If Wallflower is any indication, Krall has officially crossed that same line.

Not, truth be told, that it really matters. For as with Cole, this is jazz-influenced pop singing of the highest caliber. (And it is primarily singing; she plays piano on just three tracks.) The production values, courtesy of an impressively subdued David Foster, are sterling. The strings, present across most of the dozen tracks, are silken, never syrupy. Krall’s distinctively scorched sound remains as bewitching as ever. The material, of course, helps fuel the crossover argument, with Krall covering pop hits from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. But her selections are judicious. The songs, from such fine craftsmen as Elton John, Bob Dylan, Don Henley, John Phillips, Jim Croce and Leon Russell, are consistently good and often great.

Befitting so polished a project, there are a few A-list guests. Though his and Krall’s voices twine only briefly on Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally),” Michael Bublé proves a winning partner. Equally satisfying is her duet with Bryan Adams on Randy Newman’s downy “Feels Like Home.” But to savor Wallflower‘s finest moments it’s necessary to buy the deluxe edition. There you’ll find a gorgeously spare rendition of Lennon and McCartney’s “In My Life” and, best of all, a rollicking “Yeh Yeh” with Georgie Fame (who, remarkably, sounds as sharp and fresh as he did when he scored the original hit in 1965). It is not only the disc’s sole slice of fun and frolic but also the only track that recalls the more untamed Krall of her early work.

Listen to or download this album at iTunes.

Originally Published