Released on DECCA on 7th April
At last Imelda has become Madame May and I am not talking about her new hairdo, making her look like a young and sexy Chrissie Hynde. I am not speculating either about the mum of one reinventing her image after a heartfelt break up... And if that’s what you want to read about you can pass your way folks.
We are here to talk about 'Life. Love. Flesh. Blood', Imelda May’s new and latest album which will be released on Decca (!!!!). I will be honest with you, I have never been too much of a fan of her previous era (but I respect it) but it has changed now because... gosh, this album is ahead of anything produced recently in Ireland. The mix of jazz, blues, gospel, ballads is classic but so refreshingly crafted that I cannot fault any title. Well obviously, everybody will talk to you about Black Tears which is obviously good, but not only because Jeff Beck is on it. For me the opening title Call Me is one of the best, insofar as it is setting the tone of the album. It is clear: the punkie butterfly has clearly morphed into an accomplished artist with a capital A. The rockabilly tunes of the past look very pale when compared to Human or even the Calexico-ish Sixth Sense.
An average title though in my own opinion is Bad Habit, but we can settle our disagreement by agreeing this is maybe a good-bye song to her rockabilly past. The quality of the following tracks which are Levitate or the superb When It’s My Time may leave you breathless so much. There is such a soft intensity in those songs. I quite like Leave Me Lonely too. Not that the song is innovative in any shape or form, but it is catchy and insidiously infectious in its own way.
Despite being recorded in only seven days, the overall production is top notch. But should we be surprised when all the musicians on board have come with a huge studio experience, acquired with top artists such as Costello, Plant or even Elton John, so no wonder why all the tunes are so meticulously delivered. Now, and this maybe a paradox, but I am really smitten by the vocals. Imelda’s voice is in control at all time and is clearly relegating the other musical instruments to a figurative role.
Finally, I could not help smiling at the title closing the album: The Girl I Used to Be. So, paraphrasing Imelda’s lyrics I would say that once upon a time there was a Dublin girl whose hairdo and music was very popular and then one day it became stellar.
If I was to pick 3 only: Call Me, Sixth Sense, Human
Live Test: I hope I will be able to tell you soon
Review by Pascal Derrien