If you don’t know Imelda May, you should. Writing about her makes me dyslexic, I can love or loathe her but I still listen.
Ok, I’ve had the advantage of listening to her, as a teenager, singing back up vocals to bands in Dublin pubs. I watched her enthral a pub of Irish music fans with a jaw dropping rockabilly set that included an untried song she’d just recorded for her second album.
My heart melted when I heard her sing ‘End of the World’ on her ‘No Turning Back’ album of 2003, because that was a song first performed by one of the regrettably forgotten queens of country, Skeeter Davis.
Best of all, though, was when, in a recent heatwave, we were sitting out on my roof, listening to the incredibly soulful, Life Love Flesh Blood, her new album and a friend of mine remarked between tokes, ‘what the fuck are we listening to?’
Because I could say, probably the best album by an Irish artist in a long, long time.
The title is uncompromising. It’s about human things like childbirth and heartbreak. It also draws from Imelda May’s background, Dublin’s Liberties, my own neighbourhood, where everything is down to earth.
Happily, she’s employed the genius of T. Bone Burnett to stew her vocal genius into a soulful masterpiece that is never overpowered by its wondrous accompaniment but enhanced.
It’s 2am, people are banging on my door and I can only say that’s a testament.