Diana Krall - The Girl In The Other Room
This is not the first album that has seen a songwriting collaboration with Elvis Costello. Previously, Costello, working either solo or with the Attractions, had worked alongside Paul McCartney and, in an adaptation of Romeo And Juliet composed as letters written only by Juliet, The Chronos Quartet. Eighties magazine star and onetime singer with Transvision Vamp, Wendy James, went solo having secured Costello's services but he later dismissed the album as having been written as he and his first wife strolled around London in a single Sunday morning.
There is, however, little chance of Costello writing off his work on this album, Diana Krall's latest, given that sometime last year, Costello and Krall married, leading to them writing together, allowing Krall to release her first album of original songs alongside her now-traditional collection of covers. As with Johnny Cash, albeit with jazz rather than country/folk, Krall's rich vocals and supple piano playing reveal her ability to make a song sound as though she had some part in its writing and her recordings of songs by Mose Allison, Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell sit effortlessly alongside the Krall/Costello originals.
Beginning in a strident manner with Allison's Stop This World, featuring Krall's rolling piano under her warm vocal, the album moves into the playing of the title track, which is not only The Girl In The Other Room's first co-writing credit between Krall and Costello but also the first sound of the late-night jazz that drifts through this album.
Throughout the album, Krall's spirit remains sympathetic to the source material and to Costello's writing, adapting each song to the maturity she has realised over seven previous albums. With Krall's instrumentation reaching into each song to reveal the sensuality at their heart, notably on Love Me Like a Man and Tom Waits' Temptation, as well as a tender recording of her husband's Almost Blue. Amongst the best songs on the album is Krall's version of Joni Mitchell' Black Crow in which the stark play between the words and the music are made more clear than on Mitchell's original.
No matter that jazz fans believe their equivalent of psychedelic rock and hip-hop is the wild sound of free jazz, all that a few of us want out of jazz is the mournful sound of piano, drums and bass that sweeps out of jazz clubs late night/early morning when whiskey has made its claim on the evening. As such, this album will be returned to time and again, allowing the listener to revel in the warm, organic sound and effortless playing of Krall and her long-time partners, Jeff Hamilton and John Clayton.
Krall has come far in co-writing six of the twelve tracks here, finally able to put her own voice amongst those of both her peers and elders. Better yet is that Krall's own writing sounds not at all out of place amongst songs by Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell, as though she has found her place within an order beyond the awarding of Grammys, which have been Krall's until now but with The Girl In The Other Room, there is ever the sense that something greater awaits her.