Note: A version of this review previously appeared in the Illinois Entertainer.
Adding five tracks to Imelda May’s second release, Mayhem, underscores the Irish singer-songwriter’s ability to excel at whatever genre of popular music she chooses. The 21-track More Mayhem digs heavily into Stray Cats style rock-a-billy, but also features May belting out authentic blues, vamping to burlesque, evoking 1940s torch songs, and playing cowgirl. Her band, particularly guitarist Darrel Higham, never fails to set the appropriate mood.
The Halloween fun of “Psycho” has a hint of the James Bond theme, and Higham brings that twanging guitar sound to the equally energetic “Let Me Out” and “All For You.” Dan Priseman’s horn playing adds to the lively approach on the ragtime influenced “Inside Out” and the title track. May finds her own way to interpret the Gloria Jones/Soft Cell hit “Tainted Love,” and captures the emotion of a riding out the ups and downs of a relationship on “Kentish Town Waltz.” The Country & Western swing of the bonus track “Walking After Midnight” and powerful “Blues Calling” add to this well-rounded CD’s appeal.