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Rockabilly star delivers superb second album
Roisin Dwyer, 06 Sep 2010
Since 2008’s Love Tattoo Imelda May’s trajectory has been meteoric – from Liberties gal playing humble venues around the UK and Ireland to international star singing with Jeff Beck at the Grammys, quicker than you can say ‘Johnny Got A Boom Boom’.
That ‘official’ debut – there was an earlier record that was more demo than album – hit the No. 1 spot in Ireland and has since gone four times platinum. So what can we expect from its successor?
From infectious opener ‘Pulling The Rag’, Mayhem breezes in, before striding purposefully through an energetic collection of danceable rockabilly gems, punctuated by poignant ballads and mid-tempo charmers. In contrast to the raw sound of its predecessor, the production here is slick and the songs are markedly more ambitious. May’s vocals, higher in the mix than hithertofore, ooze confidence. The band have also skipped the piano and Hammond organ and opted for a full rock onslaught. It works a treat.
The album clocks in at an impressive 14 tracks. It shifts from playful, dramatic and sassy to tender and poignant, but the momentum is never less than compelling.
Thematically, the songs vary, but celebrating love (in all its glorious implications and imperfections) is a recurring theme. In ‘Kentish Town Waltz’ she puts it all in perspective: “You’re good at the things that I’m hopeless at/ And I notice what you ignore/ But it’s when I see you’re not perfect for me/ It’s then that I love you more.”
And on the highly impressive ‘Inside Out’, she revels humorously in all aspects of her paramour: “I love your wits/ And all you wobbly bits.”
Different types and virtues of love are also explored. Obsession is the subject of ‘Psycho’; slinky teaser ‘All For You’ deals with lust; ‘I’m Alive’ is a paen to the life-affirming qualities of the L-word; and ‘Proud and Humble’ is ostensibly a love song to her maker. She completes the collection with a rousing uptempo cover of Soft Cells’ ‘Tainted Love’.