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Imelda May. Life Love Flesh Blood
Jeremy Williams-Chalmers, Arts Correspondent
Imelda May
When rockabilly starlet Imelda May re-emerged this year a lot of noise was made about her stripped back image and the fact she had finally made the record she had longed to record all her life. However despite the striking imagery may wondered whether May would have really returned to the more intimate sound showcased on her still impressive Love Tattoo, as opposed to enjoyable but slightly soulless subsequent studio albums. Titled Life Love Flesh Blood, it certainly is packaged as a reflective release, but much more impressively it delivers an Imelda May that many have longed to hear.

May's prowess as vocalist has never been in doubt, nor has her impressive live capability, but something important was missing from her last two studio albums - a sense of heart. While there was evidence of it on 2010's Mayhem, 2014's Tribal felt more like a tick box exercise in appealing to a mainstream audience than it did the latest release from the songstress who made hearts purr with Johnny Got A Boom Boom and melt with Falling In Love With You Again.

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Most impressively Life Love Flesh Blood does not re-tread old ground in order to conquer past glories. Fans can breathe a sigh of relief to discover that rockabilly has not fully left the equation, instead sincerity has re-entered.

Opening the heartbreaking ballad Call Me, May shows her cards immediately. This is a personal record that reflects on the confusion and heartbreak following the breakdown of her marriage to Darrel Higham. While sorrow and regret are the order of the day, with Black Tears and Should've Been You the most poignant, the record is not all doom and gloom as it builds through to the uplifting retrospective The Girl I Used To Be.

With the feisty rock of Bad Habit and indie chic of Leave Me Lonely proving the album's highlights, this is a record that showcases a positive gear change in May's career. They say heartbreak is the best material for a songwriter, and in May's case it proves to be true.

Imelda May. Life Love Flesh Blood, 19th April 2017, 18:02 PM