Imelda May reveals her stunning new album cover as she officially announces her fifth studio record, entitled Life. Love. Flesh. Blood, set to release April 7 via Decca Records/Universal Music Canada.
“I love the girl she used to be but I think I love even more the woman she’s become. Still mischievous and playful, still a siren, but there’s an ache in her voice now that has me with a glass at my ear to the wall of her world where trouble has entered the room. There’s an erotic power here that’s not just feminine power. She makes truth telling an invitation to intimacy.” – Bono
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 album is produced by the legendary T Bone Burnett, who said of Imelda: “When I first happened onto her music, she was a punky Irish Rockabilly singer with a great band. 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.”
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, Bloodbreathes 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. Imelda explains, “It’s therapy, like keeping a diary that a lot of people read. Some of my favourite songs don’t say much, but they reveal everything.”
Recorded over seven days in Los Angeles, the album features musical contributions from guitar hero Jeff Beck (“Black Tears”), piano legend Jools Holland (“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 (Elton John & Leon Russell, Ray Lamontagne) and bassist Zach Dawes (The Last Shadow Puppets, Mini Mansions), the same band that recorded Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand.
First single “Black Tears” available now is a personal and heart-wrenching ballad, it features a distinctive slide guitar part, coupled with a unique picking and guitar tone that could be the handiwork of only one man – the legendary Jeff Beck. Jeff Beck says of Imelda, “I knew it from the start …you cannot ignore talent this unique.”
Imelda showcases her raw yet restrained breathtaking lead vocal, complimented by rich backing vocals and a super tight rhythm section. Written with Angelo Petragalia (Kings of Leon), the inspiration for the song’s visual and poignant lyrics was inspired by a very personal moment for Imelda: “I wrote Black Tears with Angelo Petraglia after a heart wrenchingly difficult goodbye. I closed my door and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror with black tears rolling down my face. It’s a sight and situation most women have unfortunately seen ourselves in at some point in life. Angelo had a beautiful guitar piece that fit the mood perfectly.”
Imelda saw 2017 in with this very track, as she impressed viewers of Jools Holland’s esteemed annual Hootenanny on New Year’s Eve with a captivating live performance, which landed hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube in just days of its upload and was the most popular hootenanny video this year on BBC Music’s YouTube channel.
Imelda May, born and raised in The Liberties area of Dublin, has become one of Ireland’s most celebrated female artists in history. Discovered by Jools Holland, who asked Imelda to support him on tour, Imelda has gone on to perform alongside legendary artists including Lou Reed, Bono, and Smokey Robinson.