Artist makeovers clearly aren’t a new thing. Certainly musical change in directions happen with a boring regularity. In Imelda May’s case though the whole thing feels like it comes from a more authentic place than other, more cynical, revamps you could think of. Almost exactly three years to the release date of Tribal comes a newly de-quiffed, de-blonde streaked, grown-up Imelda May. With T Bone Burnett on production duties, the Irish singer has reigned in the rockabilly look and, most importantly, sound to deliver the more mature Life.Love.Flesh.Blood.
Spurred on by divorce, and recording the album in just seven days in LA, May has turned to influences from the jazz and blues spectrum. As the new look suits May, so does the new music; there are some excellent songs here: the lead single ‘Black Tears’ is a calling card for the new May, ‘Should’ve Been You’ is a powerful riposte, ‘Sixth Sense’ swaggers and teases, and ‘Leave Me Lonely’ has a rough edged feel to it. The problem is keeping that standard, and not repeating herself. It’s a strong start from the new Imelda May, she’s definitely here to stay.