Monday, May 15, 2017


Here's a major departure for the Irish singer, best known in the past for her rockabilly style, and many guest appearances with stars such as Jeff Beck, U2 and Jools Holland. She's moved out of that genre pigeon-hole with a collection of mood pieces produced by T-Bone Burnett. Backed by one of his usual crack groups (drummer Jay Bellerose, guiters by Marc Ribot, etc.), the songs feature lots of subtlety and texture, to match the personal, introspective lyrics.

Mostly, these are songs that spill out a lot of feelings, spurred on by the end of her marriage and a desire to cast off the image she felt trapped in, that rockabilly singer with the wild haircut. Everything still revolves around her vocals, potent weapon that her voice is, but with the softer or haunting material dominating, we get to hear her doing more singing than belting. The Girl I Used To Be sums it all up, stripped to almost nothing but acoustic guitar, May singing her emotional biography: "Life kicked in with all its might/But my strong heart wouldn't break."

There are some moments when she does let loose, including Bad Habit, when we're reminded of the powerhouse singing she can do, and When It's My Time, a gospel-flavoured track featuring Holland on piano. Beck also does a guest solo on Black Tears, not one of his scorchers though, as it's one of the moody cuts. The deluxe edition of the album features an extra four tracks (for $3 more), and is well worth it, with some gutsy rock to balance the chill smoothness elsewhere.

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