Love Tattoo is the debut solo album by Irish vocalist Imelda May, formerly of the roots outfit Blue Harlem. May has captured the attention of the United Kingdom with its release, and for good reason. It’s a striking gumbo of tough Boogie-Woogie, streetwise razor-edged Rockabilly, intimate sultry vocal Jazz, and sassy Jump Blues.
May wrote all but two of the set’s 12 tracks and produced the set; she also plays the bodhran, an Irish percussion instrument from antiquity. She’s surrounded herself with an ace band that includes her husband, guitarist Darrell Higham, trumpeter Dave Priseman (who also plays flügelhorn and percussion), pianist and organist Danny McCormack, bassist Al Gare, and drummer Dean Beresford.
The tunes aren’t overly arranged, the production is minimal, and the instruments - as well as her voice - sound unembellished. Imelda May is capturing the attention of Europe for a reason; she is a rare and very exciting talent who understands the history of American roots music and knows how to use that understanding in a contemporary context without pandering.