The days of pigeonholing Imelda May as “the Irish rockabilly singer” are well and truly over. The Dubliner’s stylistic reinvention – kick-started with her 2017 album Life Love Flesh Blood – continues apace with her sixth album. Here, May sounds completely at ease with both the musician and the woman she has become, and that acceptance brings a soulfulness to songs such as Diamonds and swoonsome lullaby Solace.
Many of these songs address the intoxicating rush of new love. The seductive title track and Can’t Say nod to Dusty Springfield and Burt Bacharach’s songbook, respectively. Others take a more determinedly independent line, such as Different Kinds of Love and Made to Love, an anthem for acceptance.
In between, May mixes it up with some forthright contemporary pop-rock numbers. Just One Kiss, featuring Noel Gallagher on vocals and Ronnie Wood on guitar, is fine, thought a duet with Miles Kane on the brisk, seedy What We Did in the Dark sounds too out of step with the album’s tone.
Her collaboration with partner Niall McNamee on the lush Don’t Let Me Stand on My Own is altogether better, but the poppy stomp, dramatic strings and decisive air of menace on Never Look Back, the closing track, say it all: the old Imelda may not be completely gone, but this new era leaves no room for nostalgia.