Since making her commercial breakthrough with the 1996 album, All for You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio, Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall’s career has gone from strength to strength. To date, she’s sold over 15 million records globally, making her one of the best-selling artists in the world. An astonishing eight of her albums have hit the number one spot on Billboard’s Jazz Albums chart (a record-breaking achievement for a jazz artist), while 19 of her albums have been certified gold, platinum, or multi-platinum. Here, we take a look back at some of the singer’s very finest moments with our pick of the 10 best Diana Krall songs of all time.
10. There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears
There Ain’t No Sweet Man That’s Worth The Salt Of My Tears was first recorded by Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra in February 1928. Both Peggy Lee and Norma Waterson have delivered excellent versions in the years since, but there’s something extra special about Krall’s barnstorming performance of the song on her 2012 album, Glad Rag Doll.
9. Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby
Krall might not have made her commercial breakthrough until her third album, 1996’s All for You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio, but her gifts were obvious from the start. Her second album, Only Trust Your Heart, is stuffed with gems, including this incredibly sultry rendition of Louis Jordan’s timeless classic, Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby. Kralls’ vocals are inspired, but Stanley Turrentine’s jaw-dropping saxophone comes close to stealing the show.
8. Little Girl Blue
Nina Simone’s timeless version of Rodgers and Hart’s Little Girl Blue might have helped kickstart her career back in 1959, but Krall’s heartbreaking rendition from her chart-topping ninth album, From This Moment On, is equally dazzling, with the subdued arrangements and Krall’s poignant delivery playing to the song’s inherent melancholy perfectly.
7. I’m Not In Love
10cc earned one of the biggest chart successes of their career in 1975 with the mega-selling I’m Not In Love, which took them to the top of the charts the UK, Canada, and Ireland and broke into the top ten in the US, Norway, New Zealand, Germany, and Australia. Its massive appeal hasn’t faded with the years, with the song’s continued popularity earning it over 3 million radio plays in the US alone since its release. Tackling such a perennial favorite is no easy task, but Krall aced it, delivering a cover every bit as cooly nonchalant as the original.
6. Almost Blue
Elvis Costello (Krall’s husband) wrote Almost Blue in the hope that Frank Sinatra might sing it. He didn’t, but his wife stepped up to the plate and delivered a performance worthy of even Old Blue Eyes himself. A striking, wonderfully nuanced version whose subdued production allows Krall’s sultry vocals to shine, it’s makes a wonderful addition to the singer’s seventh studio album, 2004’s The Girl in the Other Room.
5. Lonely Avenue
Glad Rag Doll, Krall’s eleventh studio album, consists primarily of a collection of covers of forgotten, relatively obscure jazz and vaudeville songs written and recorded in the ’20s and ’30s. Lonely Avenue is one of its more recent songs. Written by Doc Pomus in the ’50s, it first achieved popularity when a young Ray Charles took it to number 6 on the rhythm and blues chart in 1956. Krall’s reverb-heavy, intensely vulnerable rendition is sublime, with Marc Ribot’s triumphant banjo providing a suitably entrancing accompaniment to Krall’s always heavenly piano work.
4. Hit That Jive Jack
Krall’s 1996 commercial breakthrough, All for You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio, may have paid tribute to the mid-20th century, when artists like Nat King Cole bought the Great American Songbook back into popularity, but her contemporary interpretations and equal emphasis on both the vocals and piano playing resulted in an album of impressive elegance. The flaming hot cover of Hit That Jive Jack stands out as one of the album’s highlights, paying tribute to Cole’s original without making the mistake of trying to copy it.
3. A Case Of You
Joni Mitchell’s expansive songbook has provided fodder for countless artists over the years. A Case of You, which like many songs from Mitchell’s seminal album, Blue, was inspired by her breakup to fellow singer-songwriter Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, has been covered over 300 times and counting. Not all of those covers are worth seeking out, but Krall’s rendition from her first-ever live album, Live in Paris, is an absolute must-listen.
2. Boulevard of Broken Dreams
Another beautiful number from Krall’s 1996 album, All for You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio, next, this time the gorgeous Boulevard of Broken Dreams. First recorded by Deane Janis with Hal Kemp’s Orchestra in October 1933, the song became a major early hit for Tony Bennett, whose 1949 demo helped win him his first recording contract. It’s since been covered by numerous artists, including Amy Winehouse, Marianne Faithfull, and The King Cole Trio, but Krall’s downtrodden, stirringly melancholic version might just be the pick of the bunch.
1. Cry Me a River
As azcentral.com points out, Claus Ogerman’s richly textured yet understated arrangments work beautifully against Krall’s vulnerable vocal performance on this poignant rendition of Arthur Hamilton’s timeless torch song. Of all the versions of the song that have been made over the years, Krall’s comes the closest to matching Julie London’s definitive reading from 1955. Find it on the Grammy award-winning 2001 album, The Look of Love.