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.
Duke Robillard’s Stomp! The Blues Tonight will be released June 2nd. Stomp! The Blues Tonight finds Duke livening up his bluesy sound with splashes of swing and jazz. The disc recalls the early days of the bluesman’s career in the 1960s as a founding member of Roomful of Blues, including a horn section composed of his former bandmates: saxophonistss Doug James and Rich Lataille, and cornet player Al Basile.
Ol’ Duke and I go way back, though he doesn’t know it. Duke performed at the very first Mountain Stage show that I ever attended in August 1997, which also happened to be my first proper concert. Robillard shared the stage with Joan Baez, Sinead Lohan, Dar Williams, and Laura Love. I would also credit Duke for my love of the blues, a genre I was only vaguely familiar with before his set that night.
I’ll get the negative out of the way first. Stomp! The Blues Tonight contains several tracks featuring guest vocals by singer Sunny Crownover, which seem dull in comparison to Duke’s solo tracks. Her voice isn’t bad, but there’s just something bland about her tone that doesn’t mesh well with this particular genre of music.
However, the rest of the album (particularly the title track) is infectious and full of life. The songs bounce around through blues, jazz, swing, and boogie woogie – sometimes within one song. It sounds like it was as fun to make as it is to listen to.
The liner notes include track-by-track comments from Robillard.
Duke Robillard – Stomp The Blues Tonight (mp3 expired) *
Tennessee quartet Christabel & The Jons are back with a new album Custom Made For You. Though my affection for their previous release Love and Circumstances hasn’t wavered, I love this disc even more. The new material improves on the band’s well-crafted blend of vintage jazz, country, and swing, but some of the tunes are as catchy as any modern pop song.
Oh I believe, I believe
I can make myself happy,
if I want to.
Lead singer Christa DeCicco’s sassy speakeasy croon gleefully dances with the boys’ Tin Pan Alley instrumentation, and her lyrical prose is sharper than ever.
Songs like the opener “Losing Sleep” and “Closer To You” still have that mellow nostalgia, but the tempo gets a kick with the album’s endearing and jaunty title track. “I Believe” is a softer, wistful ballad, but “Nothing Is Wrong” has a spring in its step.
The buoyant, deliciously sappy love song “The Good Life” has shades of Samoa Wilson‘s cover of “What A Little Moonlight Can Do” (which I mean as a huge compliment), while the sultry “Last Night’s Dress” should appeal to Eleni Mandell fans.
“Boy Crazy” is another stand out thanks to Christa’s merrily hyperactive vocals, while “Back To Tennessee” sounds more like an old doo-wop number thanks to snappy fingers and the guys’ backing harmonies.
I’m sad I won’t be able to attend the band’s performance at The Purple Fiddle this weekend, so I hope they return later in the year.
Christabel & the Jons – The Good Life (mp3 expired)