Born in Dublin, Ireland, Imelda May is a unique vocal talent, one whose gift lies outside the normal order of pop culture time and trends. Inspired by vocal jazz à la Billie Holiday and the sound and look of rockabilly, May began performing with the swing outfit Blue Harlem, and released a handful of independent CDs before scoring attention in 2007 with her nomination for an award as Best Burlesque Singer as well as the release of her more official debut, Love Tattoo. The album featured her strong backing band including her husband, guitarist/co-songwriter Darrel Higham, along with trumpeter/multi-instrumentalist Dave Priseman, bassist Al Gare, and drummer Steve Rushton. Critically and commercially well-received, it garnered May some high-profile live gigs, including hitting the road with Jools Holland. It was released in the U.S. by Decca in 2009, followed by two singles, and scored a mid-level success.
Her third studio effort, Mayhem, arrived in September of 2010, preceded by the single "Psycho." Also featured on the album was a rockabilly-tinged cover of Gloria Jones' single "Tainted Love," previously made famous by Soft Cell in 1981. Buoyed by the success of Love Tattoo, Mayhem performed similarly well, landing at number one in Ireland and number seven in the U.K. Two years after the release of the album, May announced she was pregnant with her and Higham's first child. In August, 2012, she gave birth to her daughter.
In 2014 May released her fourth album, the Mike Crossey-produced Tribal, featuring the singles "It's Good to Be Alive" and "Wild Woman." The album hit number one in Ireland and reached number three on the U.K. albums chart. During promotional duties for Tribal in 2015, May announced she had separated from husband and longtime guitarist/collaborator Higham. They ultimately divorced and Higham launched a solo career.
May returned in 2017 with Life. Love. Flesh. Blood, her first album not to feature Higham. The record was more stripped-down than previous efforts, with an accompanying shift in her image that found her eschewing her trademark blonde-accented pompadour in favor of a dark brunette shag. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, it also featured guest performances from friends and collaborators Jeff Beck and Jools Holland. ~ Chris True