Diana Krall sings her pop favourites

Singer Diana Krall (above), on staying faithful to the original versions of the tunes she picked for her latest album, Wallflower. -- PHOTO: UNIVERSAL MUSIC SINGAPORE
Singer Diana Krall (above), on staying faithful to the original versions of the tunes she picked for her latest album, Wallflower. -- PHOTO: UNIVERSAL MUSIC SINGAPORE

Jazz singer's new album features popular songs and duets with Michael Buble and Bryan Adams

She made her name in jazz and is one of the genre's best-selling and acclaimed female artists, but for her latest album, Diana Krall has gone pop.

Wallflower, which will be released on Monday and is her 12th album, features cover versions of contemporary tunes from the 1960s to the present and sees her take on songs by artists ranging from Elton John and The Mamas & The Papas to Crowded House and Bryan Adams.

"There're no jazz standards, there are songs from the era of my peers, my generation," the 50-year-old Canadian singer and pianist says in a telephone interview.

"I basically didn't have to use any music sheet or lyrics in front of me for this record. Most of the songs, I already knew most of the lyrics because I listened to them on the radio before there was iTunes and things like that."

While some might be surprised to see her enlist producer David Foster - the man responsible for mega-selling bombastic pop singers such as Celine Dion and Whitney Houston - Krall says she has a strong connection with him.

"We work really well together because we are also from the same place, we're Canadians.

"He grew up with a love of jazz and wanted to be a jazz musician and he played with Dave Brubeck, but he ended up becoming one of the biggest producers in popular music, but he also happens to be an incredible pianist."

Krall, a five-time Grammy winner, adds that Foster helped her with her limitations as a pop pianist.

"I was able to find keys that completely suit my voice and he was the perfect accompanist. He freed me from worrying about the piano parts so I could pick any song I wanted."

While the tunes feature her distinctive contralto voice, she also tried to stay as faithful to the originals as possible.

"I didn't want to do a jazz record, I didn't think these songs needed a jazz approach, so I thought we should just stay pretty much to the original intention of the song and not change too much."

Krall also roped in two other prominent Canadian artists to duet with her on the album - Adams and Michael Buble.

Adams, who is also known for his photography, took the portraits that adorn the album's cover and sleeve, and sang with her on his song, Feels Like Home.

"I used to listen to Bryan in my car, on cassette tapes, I just love Bryan. I think our voices are such a good match, it's quite surprising when I heard his voice next to mine, I was like 'ah really, kind of sounds like he's my brother.'"

Buble, who duets with her on Alone Again, Naturally by 1970s Irish singer- songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan, is a neighbour.

"Michael Buble and I are from the same neighbourhood in Canada. I keep running into him at the grocery store and we keep talking about when we're going to duet together and I finally get a chance to work with him."

Two of the songs that are unlike the rest on the album are the title track, a relatively obscure Bob Dylan song that he recorded in 1971, and Paul McCartney's previously unreleased If I Take You Home Tonight.

Krall worked with McCartney on his 2012 release Kisses On The Bottom and the song is an outtake from the album's recording sessions.

"Luckily for me, it didn't make it on his record so I asked him if I could record it on my record and he said 'sure'."

Krall, whose albums regularly top the Billboard Jazz Albums charts and have sold more than 21 million copies worldwide, says she would love to come back to Singapore. She last performed here in 2008.

She is also very keen on doing a concert here with her husband, influential English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, 60, and bringing along their eight-year-old twin sons.

She perks up when she talks about the boys, telling Life! that while they are always on their iPads, she and Costello expose them regularly to music, books and classic films by Charlie Chaplin and The Marx Brothers.

She says: "The beautiful thing about our family is that they are exposed to so much that they can choose from, they got a lot of stuff they can listen to, that they can make their own minds up on what they like and don't like. It's a busy household here."

dinohadi@sph.com.sg

Wallflower will be released on Monday.