Imelda May has just released her fourth studio album “Tribal”. I cannot begin to explain the excellence of this album. Named after the first song on the album, Tribal has every element that you would want in a CD: Punk, Rockabilly, Blues, Jazz, Ballads. (Yes she can do it all.) The Dubliner has certainly captured the meaning of her style of Rockin’ music. The rebellion, the community, the heartbreak, the joy, and the all around fun that music brings.
The first song “Tribal” tells of how, “It’s great to be different but have something to belong”.
“I wanted to write this song for a while ’cause I noticed how we all think we’re so clever and advanced, with our social media and all, but were all basically, pretty much the same as we have been, and we’re tribal. We’re drawn to each other, and we’re drawn to different gangs if you like…” “So that’s what I wrote about, we’re all in different tribes. So that’s that song. It’s all about my gang and yours,” says May.
This album certainly has “The Right Amount of Wrong” with songs like “Wild Woman”, “Hellfire Club”, and “Wicked Way” that pull you into the rebellion of May’s style. But that’s not the only aspect Tribal has. Songs like “It’s Good to be Alive” and “Little Pixie” show you that life is good and worth living for, regardless of the bad things. I think we oftentimes forget that.
“I just had my baby. I was up all night, I was so tired. Everybody else was asleep, and it was a long night. I was very happy with my baby of course, but anybody who’s had a new baby knows the sleep deprivation drives you insane. I remember lookin’ out the window and it was really really dark and there was a little chink of light, and bit by bit I just watched- I mean it sounds so typical, but just to watch the dawn comin’ up it really is amazing. It’s just one of those things that happens every day, but it was just so beautiful. I just watched the light comin’ up slowly and the sky filled with pink, and the boards came up and I thought ‘God it’s great to be alive. It’s really good to be alive!’ ” says May about her song.
Tribal, unlike her previous albums, May has co-produced with Mike Crossey, a well renowned producer/mix engineer. Crossey has done work for the likes of The Kooks, The Arctic Monkeys, and Jake Bugg, to name a few.
One of the biggest problems I’ve had with May’s album is that it ends too soon. It’s so good I want it to last forever. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate May’s voice. Going from rich, sultry, blues in her song “Gypsy in Me”, to a haunting punk-rock ballad like “Hellfire Club”, that almost intimidates with the power and energy of her voice as she belts out her clever lyrics.
Then combine this with killer guitar licks that May’s husband, Darrel Higham, can create with his bare hands. Along with the rockin’ bass tones, all the emotional nuances made on trumpet, and a beat you can’t help but tap your feet to.
May puts every drop of emotion in her music. If it’s a sad heartbreaking blues, you feel it like you just got dumped. If it’s a joyful, uplifting ballad it makes your day bright. Either way you feel it, that’s what music should be. You should be able to relate to a song.
May has a way of making you part of the song, her music draws you in with the emotion, it moves you with the rhythm, and it makes you wonder what will happen next in the story.
Tribal is an excellent album. Good job May, and keep on rockin’.