When Diana Krall first surfaced in the mid-’90s, it wasn’t her fine singing and piano playing, or even her supermodel image, that made her a star. It was her cool-at-all-costs attitude. Her understated, emotionally minimal style made the jazz and pop of our grandparents’ era seem hip to millions of twenty- and thirtysomethings just discovering the Great American Songbook. On early albums, like her 1996 breakthrough, All For You, Krall took goofy novelty tunes by Nat King Cole and performed them with a seriousness that drained them of all life.
By the summer of 2000, however, while touring with that warmest of pop singers, Tony Bennett, a new Krall was emerging. This sunnier persona comes to the fore on The Look of Love, Krall’s first album since 1999’s Grammy-nominated When I Look in Your Eyes. In addition to featuring the most romantic vocalizing she’s ever done, the set benefits from the soft, subtle string backgrounds of legendary German orchestrator Claus Ogerman—best known for his work with Sinatra and Jobim—who hasn’t arranged a jazz or pop album in more than 20 years. Krall’s sensual cooing and luxuriously packaged high-glam image make her a worthy successor to the late Julie London, whom Krall honors on The Look of Love with an earthy rendition of London’s hit ”Cry Me a River.” The set climaxes with a supremely intimate, relaxed six-minute-plus treatment of the Mexican standard ”Besame Mucho.” If, between Krall and Bennett, Gen-Y hasn’t yet succumbed to the seduction of old-fashioned romance, it never will. A-