So this here is the cover of Diana Krall's new album, Glad Rag Doll, due out on Verve on Oct 2. This afternoon I posted it on Twitter, with a link to the Rolling Stone preview that marked its official unveiling. The response was, shall we say, the social-media equivalent of a raised eyebrow:
Bret Sjerven Expanding demographic in horny middle aged men. They tend to have the disposable income. Ask the porn industry.
Now, maybe it's the death this week of Helen Gurley Brown, with her pioneering but problematic legacy of female glam-powerment — but I found myself wondering about the uniformity of this feedback, which (it must be said) came uniformly from male observers. Is there any reason to think Krall's female fan base might hold a different opinion? (Seriously, I'm asking.)
As you may know, Krall is 47, the mother of two children (twins), and the wife of Elvis Costello. By all accounts they are happily married; Costello did some playing on the new album, which was produced by his longtime pal T Bone Burnett. One could argue that her boudoir pose is a sex-positive move, a statement of smoldering purpose, even a courageous revamp of her image.
But Krall doesn't exactly make it easy to sympathize. "It was like I was a completely clean piece of canvas," she says in that RS story, suggesting the blank passivity of an object being acted upon, rather than an agent pursuing her own agenda. (The fact that it's her very first quote in the piece is damning, too, but let's remember that it was written and shaped by a dude.)
[Addendum: I should have mentioned this, from a press release: "Diana Krall has collaborated with Academy Award winning costume designer, Colleen Atwood and acclaimed photographer, Mark Seliger to create a series of beautiful and striking images for Krall's new album, "Glad Rag Doll". They are inspired by Alfred Cheney Johnston's pictures of the girls of the Ziegfeld Follies taken during the 1920s. Said Krall, 'If there was an era to which I could choose to go back in time, it would be the 1920s, just because of the whole wildness of it all.'"]
I'll have more to say about the music on the album at a later date, but today's, um, bombshell seemed to warrant some standalone commentary. I'd welcome more thoughts from the jazz patriarchy — and, even better, from some women, especially those sympathetic to Krall's situation. (Anyone?) I'll add that as a newish dad, I actually cringe-laughed in recognition at this next response, though that shouldn't be construed as any sort of endorsement: