Imelda May has been carefully stacking up accolades and word-of-mouth advertising all over the U.K. Ever since appearing on Jools Holland’s show and wowing the audience, including Jeff Beck, she’s been in a bit of a whirlwind. With the release of her sophomore album, Love Tattoo, on U.S. shores, the “wow factor” is primed to explode.
A delicious and devilish mix of rockabilly, jazz, and good old-fashioned beach-blanket rock, Love Tattoo is an energetic record that makes great use out of May’s pipes and her ability to conduct energy. It’s a banger of a record, uneven in places as it should be, and it sparkles with the brilliance of an artist having a hell of a good time doing her thing.
The beauty in what dear Imelda pulls off lies in the effortlessness of the whole fusion deal. Many artists try to twist some sort of stew of jazz, punk, and rock together and come across looking like a dog that just peed on the carpet. There’s no confusion or regret here, though, as May’s approach is couched in her life experience.
She grew up listening to rockabilly and blues when everyone else in the ‘hood was listening to Wet Wet Wet and groups like A-Ha. As the youngest of five kids, Imelda May was often caught in a hailstorm of various musical styles but still managed to maintain her own groove while respecting the boundaries of her siblings and parents.
Love Tattoo is the result of all that lovely chaos, standing as a bouncy collection of influences piped through May’s natural charm and brilliant vocals.
Along with singing, May plays the bodhrán and gets a little assistance from her array of backing musicians. Featuring Dave Priseman on trumpet/flugelhorn/percussion, Darrel Higham on guitar, Al Gare on double bass, and Steve Rushton on guitars, her band is more than competent in supporting her big voice and bigger energy level.