Diana Krall's first album with husband Elvis Costello

Diana Krall's first album with husband Elvis Costello

On March 31, 2004, twenty years ago, Diana Krall released his eighth album “The Girl in The Other Room”. In this album the Canadian singer and pianist records songs she wrote together with her husband Elvis Costello. In addition to these songs, the album includes some covers taken from the repertoire of Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Mose Allison and of the same Elvis Costello. What you can read in the following lines is our review of “The Girl in The Other Room”.

The Norah Jones effect or the Elvis Costello effect? Diana Krall's new album lends itself to different types of discussions, not necessarily positive ones. The album by the blonde pianist and singer arrives after her younger colleague has hit the charts all over the world for the second time, with music that starts from jazz to become “popular”: blues, folk and so on. It is almost inevitable to compare the two: Diana Krall has long been considered one of the rising stars of the jazz revival, and her standard interpretations are considered perfect for bringing a much wider audience to the genre. Although she's been around longer than Jones, Krall hasn't been able to make the big leap. Maybe not yet. However, upon closer inspection, Krall draws on a different type of music, less “popular” and more elitist than Jones. So even her openings to the most recent repertoire (Bacharach, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel) can broaden her audience, but certainly not bring it to the levels of her colleague. In short, the standards interpreted so rigorously by Krall are a more “adult” and less transversal type of music.

The Costello effect is instead the double driving force that the blonde Canadian has had in the last year, following her love story with the bespectacled musician, who she got married to last December. The first driving force was, obviously, the return of publicity for the couple, often present in gossip columns. The second, more purely musical, is the help of her husband, who co-signs six songs on this new album. “The girl in the other room” is a very ambitious album: it is Krall's first to contain totally original material (six out of 12 songs). And it is also the album with the most concessions to “popular” music. Costello's presence is not felt much: officially his contribution is to have co-signed the lyrics of six autographed songs and also the music of the title track, which were otherwise written by Krall herself (for the record the others co-signed are ”I've changed my address”, “Narrow daylight”, ”Abandoned masquerade”,”I'm coming through” and ”Departure Bay”).

Krall isn't a great author after all. She certainly isn't comparable to the authors she usually plays. Her songs are pleasant reinterpretations of the style of the American songbook, but they don't leave a particularly strong impression. In songs like the title track, Krall imports the strengths and weaknesses of her interpretative key: great vocal and piano technique, great production and great instrumentalists behind her (the old rascal Tommy LiPuma is at the console, among the musicians the bassist Christian McBride stands out and the drummer Peter Erskine), but a substantial underlying coldness, which occasionally makes things go a bit crazy.

These characteristics can be heard even better in “Almost blue” (an immortal song written by her husband and made even greater by Chet Baker's uncertain but passionate voice) or in “Temptation” by Tom Waits and “Black crow” by Joni Mitchell.

In short, this is an ambitious album, but it doesn't always achieve its results. It's no better or worse than Jones. It's just different. It's a good nocturnal jazz record with openings to pop, but which isn't able to stand comparison with the passion of the models it refers to. If that's enough for you, the dish is excellent and plentiful. If you want more, you're better off turning to the originals.