Irish singer Imelda May’s sophomore album, Mayhem, was originally released in Ireland last November and will finally be released in the U.S. via Decca Records on July 19th. The followup to 2009’s Love Tattoo was well worth the wait. The new disc adds just enough modern rock noise to Imelda’s signature growling rockabilly sound to make it interesting without losing the retro style that makes her music so charming.
Catchy, high energy songs like the claphappy opener “Pulling The Rug,” “Psycho,” and the infectious title track have more of a pop polish than Imelda’s debut, but are anchored by her fierce vocals, big brass and rumbling rock guitars.
“Kentish Town Waltz” is a pretty, wry ballad about young love. The rest of the album whirls through torchy jazz numbers and trumpet-fueled swing and rockabilly.
Mayhem closes with a swingin’ cover of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” and a new remix of Love Tattoo‘s “Johnny Got A Boom Boom.” If you liked her previous album, you’ll love this one.
If you watched this year’s Grammy Awards, then you’ve already seen and heard Irish singer Imelda May. Imelda was the spitfire who sang the “How High The Moon” tribute to Les Paul with guitarist Jeff Beck. The Dublin native’s album Love Tattoo features a similar retro rock-a-billy sound.
What sets Imelda apart from other rockabilly acts is her incorporation of traditional Irish and jazz instrumentation into her rocked out arrangements. Imelda herself plays bodhrán while her band members contribute trumpet, flugal horn, and piano.
The jazz influence is most apparent in the upbeat horns of “Feel Me” as well as Imelda’s sultry vocals in the torch songs “Knock 123” and “Meet You at the Moon.”
The real driving force behind the album is unquestionably Imelda’s growl and those revved up guitars – such as in the sizzling opener “Johnny Got a Boom Boom,” “Big Bad Handsome Man,” “Smotherin’ Me,” and especially the wailing chorus of “Smokers’ Song.”
Imelda wrote every song on the album except the traditional “Wild About My Lovin'” and “It’s Your Voodoo Working.” Both covers are fun, but it’s originals that stand out most.
Love Tattoo ends with a bang thanks to the hyperactive Latin horns and punk attitude of “Watcha Gonna Do.”
I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can hear samples at the links below.