- 16 Apr 21
Leading Irish light makes a cry for love.
11 Past The Hour marks Imelda May’s first new full-length album in over three years, and it offers fans much to unpack.
The opening title-track delivers a more accessible spin on the literary style of Tom Waits or Nick Cave, employing visceral poetry over a musical backdrop that harks further back, to the music of Jacques Brel. It moves seamlessly into ‘Breathe’, another vivid tune – replete with sweeping strings – that finds May showcasing her superb vocal chops.
After the smooth, sultry openers, ‘Made To Love’ marks a notable departure. Over an uptempo arrangement not dissimilar to an ABBA-style Eurovision banger, May takes on the persona of universal love, as she sings about love as the antithesis of prejudice. When we arrive at the bridge, which is reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’, May declares: “I’m every refugee, you see/ I’m every bum on every street/ I’m bi, I’m trans… I’m Africa, I’m Pakistan… I’m Irish, Palestinian...” There may be listeners who’ll see it as over-earnest, but May won’t care. With the help of activists Gina Martiin and Dr. Shola Ros-Shogbamimu on backing vocals, ‘Made To Love’ aims to both embrace and embody the inclusiveness that is – or should be – at the heart of the very idea of love.
The record picks up momentum again with ‘Don’t Let Me Stand On My Own’, a folk-tinged ballad drawing on May’s Irish roots. Another highlight is ‘Can’t Say’, which sees the singer’s husky voice at its most compelling. ‘Never Look Back’ bookends the record nicely, returning to the dark, creeping strings of the opening tracks.
In its big and generous heart, 11 Past The Hour is a fascinating, creative, and resonant offering from one of Ireland’s most renowned rock ‘n’ roll artists.
Imelda May features as the cover star in the new issue of Hot Press – in shops now, and available to order online below: