If you don’t know Imelda May, prepare to be amazed. If you are already a fan, get ready to hear her as you never have before. With ‘Life, Love, Flesh, Blood’, it is clear that one of Ireland’s biggest exports has found a new groove, here presenting the most personal and intimately autobiographical album she has ever written.
The record is produced by the legendary T Bone Burnett, who said of Imelda:
“I’ve never met anyone quite like Imelda May. She is full of life. When I first happened onto her music, she was a punky Irish Rockabilly singer with a great band. I was intrigued by her deep feeling for and understanding of that American art form, much of which, of course, had originated in Ireland. When I ran across her several years later, she had gone through a change of lives and was writing about it with a wild intensity and singing about it in the most open hearted way. I was inspired by her honesty and her generosity, and I continue to be intrigued.” – T Bone Burnett
Recorded over seven days in Los Angeles, the album features musical contributions from guitar hero Jeff Beck (who plays guitar on the heart-wrenching single ‘Black Tears, which was A-listed at BBC Radio 2), piano legend Jools Holland (on ‘When It’s My Time’) and an accomplished group of backing musicians including the core trio of guitarist Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello), drummer Jay Bellerose (Robert Plant and Alison Krauss) and bassist Zach Dawes (The Last Shadow Puppets, Mini Mansions).
The album marks a new direction for May who, in the time since her 2014 release Tribal, ended her marriage of eighteen years. Imelda May’s new sound sits firmly outside of any sharply defined genre box, widely spanning blues, rock, soul, gospel and jazz. ‘Life, Love, Flesh, Blood’ breathes new life into a classic sound, with Imelda’s powerhouse vocal as distinctive as ever, cementing her position as one of the strongest vocalists of her generation. The singer herself describes the record as her most “honest” yet.
Imelda’s life changed considerably in the run up to recording, and this is documented in the only way she knew how. “It’s therapy, like keeping a diary that a lot of people read. Some of my favorite songs don’t say much, but they reveal everything.” Imelda explains.