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Ragtime turned a victim of Modern Times
on 12 April 2017
May I first let off some steam regarding the cover? Many reviewers, here and elsewhere, bashed the cover. I am of the opinion that if Diana can pull it off, then why wouldn't she? Women's Lib is about expressing oneself, and NOT about putting us back in the ball and chain we shook. I salute you for your courage, Diana (okay I borrowed this one from Alanis Morrisette...!)
Now the thing that truly matters - the music. I like it that Diana chose 1920s songs for this album. The decade was called the "Jazz Age" for a reason, and it is sorely neglected by Jazz artists. Why? Was it not politically correct enough? The thing is, the history of Jazz goes back into the late 19th century and this incredibly diverse style of music deserves to be given a holistic approach.
That said, Diana is not doing all that well here. I like the first 6 songs, they reflect the spirit of those early Jazz decades. The only thing I miss here is Diana's excellent piano play, which I find should have been made more prevalent rather than just an also-ran as it is. From then onward, the album went rapidly downhill for me. For the most part, she stuck with 1920s and early 1930s songs, but she turned songs with cheerful lyrics full of warmth and hope and love of life into funeral music. One example is the bonus track "Garden in the Rain," which she could have sung with so much feeling, bringing the lyrics to life by turning them into a daydream in the mind's eye of a listener. This is indeed the impression the lyrics conjure up, but instead she allows the eerie mood of almost two-thirds of the album to take it over. "When the Curtain Comes Down" could have been the perfect ending to collection of songs trailing through the Jazz Age like a storybook, what with the decade ending in disaster (Black Friday) and so on, as it is presented here, for she kept the original downbeat mood of the song intact.
Diana, what is going on??? I normally let the music speak for itself, but on this occasion I googled up what I could find about your private life: NO divorce, NO illness, NO kid trouble... = NO reason to be so downbeat about things.
And the mysterious riddle continues on "Wallflower," which I previewed on Prime and subsequently didn't bother purchasing. But... I do have Turn Up the Quiet on pre-order, as what I have previewed from it sounds highly promising.