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Imelda May: Tribal

Fiery fourth album from the queen of ‘new rockabilly’.

Think that someone with such gleefully retro stylings as Ms May (maiden name Imelda Clabby) belongs only in twee vintage dressing-up boxes? Or a hammy function band? Don’t be too quick to judge. For while she makes no secret of her fondness for 50s style, May brings chic freshness to familiar rockabilly tones.

The title track opens on a fiercesome note; stylish but free of excessive frills. Three tracks in and we’re head-nodding and bopping away to the bluesy, jiving grooves of It’s Good To Be Alive; it’s so adorable and toe-tapping (with an impact akin to that achieved by lindy hop, Footloose and cake) you wouldn’t believe the accompanying video was a macabre Frankenstein-meets-50s-pin-up fest. And, much like the album, it’s playfully artistic, immaculately put together but just ‘loose’ enough.

The bouncing likes of Hellfire Club and Five Good Men acquire a sexy, fun edge with ever so slightly frantic, primal blues rock guitar lines. And that’s the thing about all Imelda May’s material: yes, it’s decidedly rooted in a certain era, but with humour and an ear for contemporary cool. The sound of a very classy singer, and her smokin’ band, having a fabulous time.

Polly is Features Editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage) and writes a few things. She also writes for Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer, and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.