Years after the 1990s, the decade will be remembered for the rise of pianist-vocalist Diana Krall. Simply put, this British Columbian-born artist is one of the most engaging musicians to emerge from the heap of scat-happy singers high on pyrotechnics, but short on poetry. Stamped with the imprimatur of the Nat King Cole trio and blessed by her apprenticeship with the late West Coast piano giant Jimmy Rowles, Krall simply sings songs the way they're supposed to be sung: with devotion to the lyric and with attention to the groove. This CD finds Krall in familiar company with compatriots Russell Malone (on guitar), bassist John Clayton, drummers Lewis Nash and Jeff Hamilton, and vibraphonist (and former Bill Evans associate) Larry Bunker--all supported by Johnny Mandel's svelte string arrangements. Krall and crew take Irving Berlin's chestnut "Let's Face the Music and Dance" and the Sinatra-signatured "I've Got You Under My Skin" south to Brazil via a sexy bossa nova. Malone's lush guitar accompaniment complements Krall's heartfelt delivery on "When I Look in Your Eyes", and Michael Franks's "Popsicle Toes" dances courtesy of Hamilton's drum work. "Devil May Care", "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)", The Best Thing for You", and the stridish "I Can't Give You Anything but Love" groove with a minimum of waste, while Mandel's simpatico strings steal the show on "I'll String Along with You", "Pick Yourself Up", and "Do It Again". All of which further illuminate the cool fire from this fine gift from North of the Border. --Eugene Holley Jr.