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Diana Krall: Love Scenes

Robert Spencer By

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Diana Krall is a singer out of another era: instead of wailing endless melismas, she is as cool and sophisticated as Carmen McRae. She's breathy in a way that evokes days when male-female relationships seemed more relaxed and less politically charged, not to mention more mysterious and alluring instead of in-your-face. Indeed, were it not for the thoroughly modern production values, this could pass for a record from a lost age. The playlist could have been put together by Bob Thiele at Impulse! of the early Sixties; six of the twelve selections date from the Thirties or earlier, and none from after 1965. Of course, this is perfectly understandable, for no one was writing songs like this after 1965. These are love songs from the age of glossy romances: Krall could be singing to Cary Grant or Fred Astaire-from Bacall to Krall is not a big jump. She shows virtually no awareness of anything in between.

Does she pull it off? Sure. The backing is spare and tasteful, providing an excellent setting for her delivery even at its most whispery. Christian McBride's bass is, as is his wont, completely unflashy and supportive of the musical mood. He never misses a beat and provides depth and strength. Krall seems to play more off Russell Malone on electric guitar, and he proves a worthy and empathetic foil. On "They Can't Take That Away From Me" his chording sometimes sounds so pianistic that I wonder why she didn't just play his part. Krall's piano playing is somewhat abbreviated, but her yearning solo on "Gentle Rain" shows off the concentrated power of her playing. Don't miss "Garden in the Rain," either.

"They Can't Take That Away from Me" is another highlight. Krall, befitting the after-hours feel of the entire recording, takes it down a peg or two from the cheerful verve of Frank Sinatra's version. Her take is intriguing for the unusual emotional spin her breathy delivery gives the song. Unusual in the opposite direction is Billy Myles' blues "My Love Is," which Krall tackles with a bit more vigor but no less cool.

Love Scenes somewhat resembles Krall's 1995 Impulse! album, All for You, although that recording included Benny Green on piano, whereas here Krall (and Malone's guitar) fill that space just fine. Another solid effort from a singer with a bright future; if pop music ever turns toward beauty and grace again, Diana Krall will no doubt be right in the thick of things. Heck, she may have a hand in starting it turning.

Title: Love Scenes | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Impulse!

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