Cast off your preconceived notions that Diana Krall is still a straight-ahead jazz chanteuse. On Glad Rag Doll, the singer/pianist shifts gears radically, with T Bone Burnett at the helm. Burnett encourages Krall to spread her wings as a song stylist, and while she calls the outing simply a “song and dance record,” Krall is being modest. On Glad Rag Doll, she alternately presents herself as vaudeville dame; a rockabilly yelper in the Jerry Lee vein; a refined concert-hall vocalist, roots music crooner and cabaret singer.
Krall colors her lovelorn, mysterious and even comic songs by playing a 1890s Steinway upright, perfect for the saloon-like sound many of these tracks exude. The producer of many albums by Krall’s husband, Elvis Costello (most notably his classic, King of America), Burnett brings his Americana sensibility to the proceedings, along with his favorite studio guitarist, Marc Ribot, who provides eclectic rhythm and lead support – a far cry from the tasty jazz backings of guitarists Russell Malone and Anthony Wilson in Krall’s previous groups. She cooks on the country-blues rocker “I’m a Little Mixed Up,” muses on the reflective Gene Austin hit “Let It Rain” and scores to the core of Buddy Miller’s longing “Wide River to Cross.” The highlight of Glad Rag Doll is Krall’s compelling cover of Doc Pomus’s classic “Lonely Avenue,” which clocks in at nearly seven minutes. For those yearning for the old “Peel Me a Grape” Diana, she offers the sing-songy “We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye” and the toe-tapping “You Know – I Know Ev’rything’s Made for Love.” But Glad Rag Doll is a welcome reminder of Krall’s range.