The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

Imelda May: Mayhem

Mayhem: 2010

In planning to see Jeff Beck on March 31st, checking out the opening act seemed like a good idea. What a welcome surprise the Imelda May Band, and the album “Mayhem” turned out to be. Not to say this isn’t my style of music, I was just unfamiliar with the artist.

Nailing down an exact description is difficult. It lies somewhere around rockabilly, Dixieland and big band (emphasis on rockabilly). Which is really something because Imelda is from Dublin, and has a vocal quality similar to Karen O from Yeah Yeah Yeahs. She has more depth of voice than Karen, but uses some of the same alternative shriek and warble.

What you end up with is some rockin’ and swingin’ tunes with a just a touch of alternative ethos. That is truly borne out on a cover of “Tainted Love.” Only this version sounds less like Soft Cell than it does Stray Cats. “Psycho” may be another with a strong alternative feel, but the guitars are right from the Link Wray school. Other tunes have country crooning and bluesy groans. The band is tight and provides the perfect accompaniment for Imelda’s style and sensibility. From ballads to rockers, every mood satisfies. The most concise way to put it is that “Mayhem” is a very good time.

I don’t feel the need to do a breakdown because there really isn’t a weak track on the album. This is extremely fun, but also very well executed music. You can enjoy it both on face value and with deeper scrutiny. Yes this is a short review, but there is nothing more to say that the album itself won’t do better. In other words, get it!

Not to fear. I will have more on Imelda in the concert review.

Imelda May – vocals, bodhran
Darrell Higham – guitar
Dave Priseman – trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion
Al Gare – double bass, upright bass, bass guitar
Steve Rushton – drums


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