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Ida Mae (from the album Thunder Above You available on Vow Road Records) (by Lee Zimmerman)
Ida Mae — a British/American duo consisting of Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean — made an emphatic impression with their last album, 2021’s Click Click Domino, but this time around, they had some extra impetus to consider. Jean discovered she was pregnant while the pair was touring in support of Willie Nelson and Lucinda Williams. Naturally, that would give pause to most couples, but for Ida Mae, it inspired a collection of songs initially influenced by Turpin’s early infatuation with the world of English Folk music, specifically, such iconic artists as Nick Drake and John Martyn.
It was appropriate then, that the pair opted to retreat to the English countryside and enlist Ethan Johns and Nick Pini to accompany them on drums and bass, respectively. The album was quickly recorded over the span of seven days, adding a sense of spontaneity to the proceedings well. That’s especially evident on the opening track “My Whispers Are Wildfire” which finds Ida Mae declaring in harmony ‘I’m gonna love you ‘til the money runs out’ over some scattershot rhythms. The sprawling offering that follows, “Into Your River”, changes the tone and tempo entirely, but then the song that comes along next, “American Cars”, restores that rowdy, rambunctious revelry yet again.
Those that have followed the narrative up until this point might well be confused. The new music’s connection to Turpin’s aforementioned idols never fully gels at any point in Thunder Above You, and one has to wonder at what juncture the premise was discarded and a free-wheeling approach was substituted instead. Indeed, on songs such as “Doing It For Badness” is all about abandon, both in attitude and execution.
Still, there is some slight connection to that original primeval purpose found in “Lost in Your Time”, “Thunder Above You”, “Feel the World Turning”, and “To Your Love” shared in much the same way Led Zeppelin offered homage to their rustic Roots on albums number three and four. Ida Mae approaches the process in with a similar degree of reverence and reserve, making a sound that’s far from Folk but with a similar calm and caress as well. It’s curious rather than quaint, but one has to give the pair credit for daring to defy the more obvious expectations.
Ultimately, Ida Mae’s music is an acquired taste. Quirky by nature — “Wild Flying Dove” and the haunting “Hold You Like Fading Light” provide apt examples — and yet the sound is always assured. Jean and Turpin are imaginative and inspired, even though they sometimes seem a bit frayed around the edges. Consequently, Thunder Above You clearly demands repeated listens, if for no other reason than to absorb all its unwieldy entries. The result will likely yield both interest and intrigue. (by Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Ida Mae from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Ida Mae website
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