Review of Imelda May's album Love Tattoo.
In the 70's they used to sweat in lifts and pitch the high concepts to studio dons with seconds to spare: Alien? Jaws in space. Pithy or no win, they used to make the money men understand what we would with their marketing dollars.
So what of Imelda May? In a world where unit sales are down scary percent every year and label retrenchment seems to be the only strategy left - well, no-one ever got sacked for re-re-issuing Elton's guilty pleasures - how to make sense of the rock n' rollerama of her young baby boomer, never had it so good world?
On the basis of Love Tattoo, it couldn't be easier: dig either Elvis with a pout, or maybe even nostalgia for those who literally don't know what their missing. Both apply to one degree or another, but the Irish chanteuse's execution, and a fistful of good new old fashioned tunes, make it easy to forget that essentially this record could've been released any time in the last thirty years.
There's also something wildly intoxicating about the double bass, as opener Johnny Got A Boom Boom projects to thumping, hip wrenching perfection. Every trouble here can be solved with love and cigarettes, and steeped in her calling, introspection is another girl's problem. Example? raw boned and strutting with trad dynamics, Big Bad Handsome Man is as gritty as Brighton beach scraps on soaking bank holidays.
Of course, were it all one dimensional tribute muzak the results would've failed to hold your attention. A graceful, chameleon voice helps. But where Love Tattoo scores most heavily is in it's shameless, go anywhere pilfering, a steal-with-pride approach which begs no forgiveness for the bar room blues of Smotherin' Me, the spotlight clad, torch-esque Meet You At The Moon, or the jazz-tinged Feel Me.
Of course it's not the worst time to be pickin' over the oldest bones, but amongst all the young at heart charm there's still one piece of thoroughly modern thinking; Love Tattoo's stylish diversity belies it's simple premise, and whatever your poison, there could be something in it for you.