It’s a different Diana Krall we see on the cover and hear on the tracks of “The Girl in the Other Room.”

No slinky seductress this time, giving us a “come hither stare” as she adjusts her 4-inch stilettos. Now the eyes are closed as she ruminates at the keyboard, and her latest fashion statement is a buttoned-up suit jacket and a shaggy, earth mama hairdo.

On the disc, the payoff is inching closer to a bluesy singer-songwriter oeuvre than to Krall’s “jazz standard bearer” style of yore.

Instead of the Gershwin brothers and Cole Porter, she’s covering Tom Waits (“Temptation”), Joni Mitchell (“Black Crow”), Mose Allison (“Stop This World”) and Chris Smither (“Love Me Like a Man”). And she’s contributed a half-dozen original songs – at turns somber and heated confessionals about family, loss and newfound love – that represent her first creative collaboration with Elvis Costello, also her husband of six months.

The album came together in a critical period of mourning, reflection and change for the now 39-year-old Krall, she shared in a recent chat, prompted by her summer U.S. tour.

“Life is a catalyst in itself for the work. This is what I did instead of shutting the door and saying “I can’t deal with it.”‘

In May 2002, Diana lost her 60-year-old mother, Adella Krall, to a rare form of bone-marrow cancer. Two spiritual parents, singer Rosemary Clooney and the great jazz bassist Ray Brown, also died. And there was a breakup with a longtime boyfriend.

Krall went back to her childhood home in Nanaimo, British Columbia, not far from Vancouver, and started sifting through the pieces of her life.

Among them were jazz and blues-inflected vinyl albums by the sagely Allison and Waits “that I’ve been listening to since I was a kid,” she said, plus recordings by Joni Mitchell, who in recent years has become an especially shining role model for Krall.

“She’s one of the most important artists for me in every way,” said Krall of Mitchell. “You can’t say she’s a jazz musician but can’t say she’s not. Joni can’t be pigeonholed. She worked with Mingus – he asked her!

She’s always progressed. Her work is always moving forward, from “Blue’ to “The Hissing of Summer Lawns’ and “Hejira.’ She wrote about her environment, wrote about the most

Likewise helping her through this period of angst was legendary British rock and pop experimenter Costello, who, according to one published report, first met and calmed Krall’s nerves at the February 2000 Grammy ceremony where she was a contender for album of the year (a rare honor for a piano-playing jazz chanteuse) and actually won the best jazz album Grammy for the same set, “When I Look In Your Eyes.”

Two years later, they met again at the Grammys, at which point Elvis raised the idea of a creative collaboration, and Krall, now familiar with his work, agreed.

In the fashion of Costello’s 1998 collaboration with Burt Bacharach, Krall wrote most of the music and sketched out ideas for lyrics that Costello brought to life.


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