Transcendental and Emotionally Raw Songs from Britain’s Musical Roots.
Ida Mae’s website tells you nearly as much as the accompanying Press Release about this enigmatic duo …….. nothing!
So, a tiny bit of detective work has discovered that the married couple of Stephanie Jean and Chris Turpin were the mainstays in a British Blues Rock band called Kill It Kid (3 albums) but have now gone renegade in a quest to make the music of their heart’s desire; which is a twist on Rootsy Americana, if my ears don’t deceive me.
I certainly wasn’t prepared for the loud and raucous grittiness of opening track Boom, Boom, Boom (although the title should have been a clue) …….. this is raw 21st Century Rock n Roll that sounds like the White Stripes covering an Imelda Mae song; and it’s followed by My Girl is a Heartbreak; which is much slower and a lot more intense but Turpin’s vocals are just as powerful and gritty, in a velvety manner.
You are in for a treat, as the couple’s songwriting is quite extraordinarily ‘good’, with clever narratives and tips of the hat towards poetry on a couple of songs too, plus the guitar playing throughout is deceptively brilliant at times too.
It took me a couple of plays to understand the highs and lows of the mood swings that Ida Mae deliberately create here; with the dark ballad Easily in Love following the magnetic drum heavy and hypnotic Higher Than the Light, and preceding the swelling harmonies of Love is Still a Hard Road, which sounds like the couple are singing too and with each other without a care that anyone is listening.
‘Love’ in all its mysterious guises features in many, if not all the songs here; sometimes it’s ‘what it says on the tin’ via the title; the raw Delta Blues of Sick in Love and If You Don’t Love are obvious choices, but never cliched, with Chris ringing every ounce of emotion out of both.
But, such is the articulate and smart way the couple create a song, the heartfelt Rightfully, Honestly will feel like a stiletto to your heart when you hear it for the first time; yet on Reaching Chris sounds like he could explode as he hits notes that only dogs will hear; but the delicate title track Chasing Lights has the ability to make you stop breathing while you listen and take in the duos compelling story.
That song was very nearly the RMHQ Favourite song; but then I listened again to final track Baby Be Mine, which has Stephanie Jean taking lead and Chris supplying winsome harmonies; and…. well……. it falls just short of being a tearjerker; but I think it won’t be long before I’m reaching for it one cold evening just as I uncork a bottle of wine.
As well as Chris and Stephanie Jean Turpin; a huge round of applause must go to the simple bass playing of Nick Pink and the extraordinary guitar interludes from one Dweezil Zappa but most of all the understated production by Ethan Johns, who also supplies drums, keys and even ukulele too!
If you don’t already know Ida Mae; as I didn’t, but they cover a heady mix of sounds that will remind you at different times of the White Stripes, The Civil Wars and even John Martyn and Nick Drake; so strap yourself in for a bunch of songs that will not just challenge your emotions, but make you sing, dance and every old thing, too!
Released 12th July 2019