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Many people will have seen the influence of Rockabilly in American Films but I doubt many actually would have known a big artist in the genre until the emergence of Imelda May. The Dublin born May was one of those "finally" stories in Music as she became known in 2005 after years of small time gigging and an original release released under her maiden name Imelda Clabby was re released under the name Imelda May. She had to wait until 2008 to hit the charts with the release of her second album Love Tattoo which was led by the infectiously catchy single "Johnny Got a Boom Boom". She released her third album "Mayhem" in 2010.
Following on from the ground work laid with the 2008 release "Love Tattoo" she began getting more recognition and appeared on Later with Jools Holland which led her to tour with him and also work with Jeff Beck on his reworking of Jeff Buckley's Lilac Wine as well as "Poor Boy" for Emotion & Commotion which was released in 2010. Mayhem was released a few months later to critical acclaim from Music Critics. The album was also a huge success in the charts with a high position of 7 in the United Kingdom Album charts. The album develops the Rockabilly sound of her previous work with elements of Blues.
1.) Pulling the Rug
Opening with an excellent double bass part this song has a really catchy feel, May's vocals are deeper than on much of the album and show another side to his voice. I like the way her vocals and the music comes together. This is a decent start to the album and gives something to look forward to throughout the album.
This is possibly the most dated opening on the album with a very 50s rock and roll feel but it soon changes with a more modern mix. It's probably the most rock and roll song on the album and has some great melodies and is a very catchy track. This was the first single from the album.
This is a raucous joy of a song. This track brings out the best bits of Rockabilly with a slab of catchy melodies. There really is some fabulous musicianship here which really brings the music to the fore. May's vocals are rapid fire and raunchy with some great sexy growls which show off the power of her voice. This is the best up tempo track on the album and is really a pleasure to listen to. If I had one gripe about this song it's that it is only 2 minutes 46 seconds long. Minor gripe.
4.) Kentish Town Waltz
This is one beautiful song about when she moved to London with her husband when they were trying to make it as musicians. This is one of the most honest and heartfelt songs she is likely to ever record and showcases the softer side of her voice. The feel of the song is a stark departure from the previous track and in my view this showcases her variety and talent as an artist. Beautiful vocals and heartfelt lyrics result in this track being rightfully described as "the standout song" of the album by many music critics. Just a terrific, terrific song. Beautiful.
5.) All For You
This is a Jazzy number with some laid back vocals to open, I really like the way her voice develops throughout the song. She starts with a gentle vocal and moves into a powerful growl. There's some great guitar work here from her husband Darrel Higham and then some fine trumpet work from Dave Priseman. This is another track which could at just 2 minutes 51 seconds be a bit longer but again that's a minor gripe about the song.
This is a pleasant track written by husband Darrel Higham. It has a nice rockabilly dance feel and flows well, Imelda May's voice is strong on this one and the musicianship is again strong. It just doesn't have the same impact on you as the best on here. I am struggling to say a lot more on this track. It just doesn't grab you as much as the best.
7.) Inside Out
This is another catchy track which showcases her vocals well. There's some great trumpet playing here and everything is decent about the music and the vocals. I just feel that this is another track which is veering towards just a decent track. It doesn't have the same emotional impact as the best work on the album
which is a shame. It has recently been released as the third single from the album.
8.) Proud and Humble
Now this picks it up a little, It's a Bob Dylan tinged ballad about Imelda's roots and what she has achieved so far with her music career. This track has some great double bass licks which add to the jazzy rockabilly feel. A very pleasant catchy song which you can tap your feet to.
9.) Sneaky Freak
This track is another very catchy affair, It's about suspecting your partner of cheating or being up to no good. The vocals are again excellent and the way the music moves along is impressively done. There's an excellent guitar part from the husband again which tops off the song excellently.
10.) Bury my troubles
This is an excellent track which has a slower feel than much of the album yet still keeping that catchy nature. The feel of the song is about moving on from things and moving on from your past troubles. Again some excellent guitar work here.
11.) Too sad to cry
This is a fantastic ballad that is up there with the best on the album, It opens with a military style drum opening and then some excellent trumpet. May's voice is terrific and so emotive. The track is about when everything is getting you down and you see no easy way out of it. This is another terrific song which really shows Imelda May's talent and the vocals are a particular striking point of this song.
12.) I'm Alive
This track really shows the 50s style of Rockabilly. Listen to this and picture a bar in Hawaii. It has a very pleasant laid back feel and May's vocals are mellow and expressive. This is a flowing track which doesn't quite get going properly. A decent enough track though.
13.) Let Me Out
This is another catchy track, It's more mid tempo than up tempo and has some great musicianship and some nice backing vocals. It has an excellent natural feel especially from Imelda May's natural flowing vocals. I like the combination of the drums and guitar on this track. It works really well.
14.) Tainted Love
This is the final track on the album and an excellent peppy cover of the Gloria Jones original which was written by Ed Cobb. You will know the versions by Soft Cell and unfortunately Marilyn Manson but this particular version is much better. May's strong vocals deliver the lyrics with aplomb. It's an excellent version and in my opinion it's the best version of the song.
This is an excellent album from Imelda May, Before I heard the song "Mayhem" I wasn't all that bothered with Rockabilly as I felt it a bit dated but when done like this it breathes a new sign of life into it and Imelda May has done a fantastic job. There are three or four superb songs on the album which are really worth a listen and although there are a few that don't hit the spot there are no bad songs on the album. Her voice is fantastic and when she gets it right she really delivers a great song. How will she follow Mayhem?. I will certainly be checking out the follow up on the strength of this album. Four stars as it's not quite great but very good.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Pulling the Rug
4 Kentish Town Waltz
5 All For You
7 Inside Out
8 Proud and Humble
9 Sneaky Freak
10 Bury My Troubles
11 Too Sad To Cry
12 I'm Alive
13 Let Me Out
14 Tainted Love
15 Johnny Got A Boom Boom