FOLLOWING her excursion into self-composed and more contemporary material on her last disc, singer and pianist Diana Krall returns to the familiar jazz repertoire from the so-called Great American Songbook. The songs are suited to her relaxed, understated delivery, and the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra add lush and beautifully coloured accompaniment on just over half the selections (the remainder feature a quartet). It is easy to hear why she has such a big crossover following for her classy but accessible take on jazz singing.
BRACH: UNSTOPPABLE ***
BRECHIN ALL RECORDS, 12.99
DESPITE the Gaelic name, the Edinburgh-based five-piece Brach are not a traditional music outfit, but serve up a combination of contemporary Celtic music instrumentals with the rootsy Americana-meets-indie-rock feel of the vocal tracks, written and sung by guitarist David Taylor and bassist Chris Agnew. Their songs make up just over half of the dozen selections, and accordionist Sandy Brechin and the excellent Gavin Marwick on fiddle are heard to full advantage on the instrumental sets. They add both lustre and colour to the song arrangements.
BEETHOVEN: SYMPHONY NO9 ****
LSO LIVE, 7.99
BERNARD Haitink's ongoing Beethoven Symphonies series with the London Symphony Orchestra is not being recorded chronologically, so the Ninth is out midway through the project.
It's a performance typical of Haitink - nothing eccentric or forced, but flowing with natural energy, solid vision and beautifully refined contours. The clarity of the interpretation is magnificent, its dramatic impact profound. The LSO Chorus is weighty and incisive; the solo quartet - with Gerald Finley and Karen Cargill - is cohesive and powerful.
ELTON JOHN: THE CAPTAIN AND THE KID **
WHEN Elton John released the auto-biographical Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy in 1975, he was at the crest of his initial wave of popularity. Working with long-term lyricist partner Bernie Taupin, this sequel brings their showbiz trouper's story up to date, and is a musically as well as conceptually nostalgic exercise, with many echoes of Dame Elton's 1970s heyday. Following the soundtrack to his stage version of Billy Elliot, this album frequently feels like Elton - The Musical, with an inevitably self-referential and often plain indulgent narrative. Tinderbox appears to trace the ups and downs of the John/Taupin writing partnership, the jaunty ...And the House Fell Down documents a period of drug psychosis, Blues Never Fade Away is a rather bloated requiem for late friends, while I Must Have Lost In On The Wind is his tribute to all the guys he's loved before. For those who don't have time to read the autobiography.
LLOYD COLE: ANTIDEPRESSANT ***
FOLLOWING the brief but sweet reformation of Lloyd Cole & The Commotions to promote the 20th anniversary of their classic Rattlesnakes album, their erstwhile beatnik leader finds solo refuge on Sanctuary Records, the home for old rock stars. Antidepressant, Cole's first solo release in over three years, is a fine album of erudite, country-speckled melancholy which he actually considers to be "a little bit perkier than the last few records I've done." Cole is no fan of nostalgia but cannot help a backwards glance to the Commotions' Glasgow Uni roots on opening track The Young Idealists. He is still name-dropping too - Scarlett Johansson gets the honours this time - and the title track is wonderfully, and typically, wry and hangdog. But the wistful NYC Sunshine, the graceful country lament How Wrong Can You Be? and the delicately chiming Slip Away, co-written with former Commotion Neil Clark, are more representative of the overall contemplative mood.
To order any of these CDs at the special prices listed, call The Scotsman music line on 0131 620 8400. Prices quoted include P&P