Sunday, February 17, 2013

add 0047

Originally released under her maiden name of Clabby in 2003, rockabilly revivalist Imelda May's debut album, No Turning Back, was re-recorded two years later when the Dubliner had the money to improve on its bedroom studio quality. Whatever the sound problems were, they appear to have been ironed out on a foot-stomping first offering which effortlessly evokes the '50s jukebox joint era thanks to its swinging rhythms, honky tonk piano hooks, and bluesy guitar riffs, not to mention May's versatile vocals, which sit somewhere between the pure jazz delivery of Billie Holiday and the raw, earthy tones ofJanis Joplin. The old-fashioned rock & roll of "Dealing with the Devil," the infectious boogie rock of "Flame of Love," and the twanging surf pop of "Wild About My Lovin'" all sound like the kind of feel-good tunes the Fonz would bop along to on Happy Days, while "Till I Kissed You" (a duet with Elvissoundalike and guitarist/husband Darrell Higham), would make even the sternest of teddy boys swoon. But perhaps hinting at the more eclectic direction her later output was to take, the album's retro influences occasionally extend beyond the vintage rock & roll of Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly, as on the smoky jazz-tinged torch song "Once More," the Nina Simone-esque gospel blues of "What Am I Gonna Do?," and the gorgeous Nashville-inspired rendition of Skeeter Davis' "End of the World." The amount of covers (Cliff Richard's "No Turning Back," Baker Knight's "Bring My Cadillac Back," Junior Wells' "Lovey Dovey Lovely One"), suggest she didn't quite have the confidence in the songwriting abilities she would later pursue on Love Tattoo and Mayhem. But No Turning Back is still a consistently strong romp through the sounds of the '50s, which undoubtedly helped sow the seeds for her future mainstream success.


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