Diana Krall’s new album, Glad Rag Doll, will be available for purchase October 2. I’m looking forward to hearing it, but I’m not as full of anticipation as I might be if she were more serious about the jazz in her jazz. Much of her recent music feels disappointingly like easy listening.
At this time however, it’s not her music that has set the tongues wagging. No, it’s the album cover:
I read about the kerfuffle in the article, “Is Diana Krall’s new album cover too sexy? Too sexist? NSFW?” by Peter Hum in Jazzblog. The article did include a small image of the cover, but based on the comments he saw, I thought that there must be more to the story than the image in the article.
It turns out there’s not. I don’t understand why there’s any comment beyond, “Diana’s looking good!”
Let me explain my reasoning.
The post on Krall’s site unveiling the cover, “ ‘Glad Rag Doll’ Cover Revealed,” explains that many of the songs on the album were written and first performed in the 1920s and 1930s. Regarding the photo itself, the post says,
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.”
So the image does fit with the music. It’s not the “visual non-sequitur” some have claimed. But certainly there other less risqué fashion choices available from the 1920s and 1930s, so why choose this one? That I don’t know.
I think it’s unlikely that she posed for the cover in those clothes against her will. She’s not 17 years old, putting out her first album. She’s been around the block a few times and has a career that affords her many freedoms, which I suspect includes approving the cover art, especially if she’s a part of it. With this in mind, it offends me when I read comments like this one, posted on her Facebook page:
She’s so talented but evidently not confident. Dressing like this makes me feel less respect for her. Sets a bad example for female artists — they already have enough bad examples from people who are clawing their way in. She’s already successful. Why, oh why Diana?
Why is making her own choices a bad example? I thought that’s exactly what equal rights for women was about. You respect her less because her choice is not what you’d choose in the same situation? That’s your problem, not hers. I think she’ll somehow manage to get over your disapproval. Despite her garb revealing a heck of a lot less than a bathing suit would, I think it takes more than a bit of confidence to be photographed that way knowing millions of people will see it, when your claim to fame isn’t your appearance. Is it so impossible that she woke up on her last birthday and said to herself, “Damn, I look good. I should get some photos taken…” and it led indirectly to this album cover? Ask me and I’ll tell you that she looks remarkable for someone who’s seen 47 years pass.
I believe those so vocal about thinking less of Krall because of her album art are revealing more about themselves than they realize.