Ida Mae came into my life thanks to going to see Greta Van Fleet in concert. Ida Mae was the opening act and what an opening act they were! Before the show, I was over by the Merch table and saw that they were selling the vinyl. Without hearing the band, I took a chance and bought the vinyl. It turns out that was a very wise decision.
The album, called ‘Chasing Lights’, hadn’t even been officially released yet. I picked it up on May 15th and the album was set to be released tomorrow, June 7th. This was one of the very few times I have ever been able to review an album prior to its release. I had plenty of time to sit, absorb it and make a well-informed decision on the quality of this release.
Before I do that, let me tell you a little about Ida Mae. The duo are a husband and wife team named Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean. They hail from England, but currently reside in Nashville, TN (who doesn’t live there now if you are a musician). Now, you might recognize their name if you know the band Kill It Kid who were a British Blues band that dissolved after three albums.
Ida Mae’s debut album was inspired by their travels around the deep south and their ever growing appreciation for the Blues. Musically, the album is a modern Americana Blues album, however, it is mixed with their British roots which for me is an interesting and exciting blend. The album has its fair share of keyboards and a Korg drum machine for that modern sound, but it is the guitar playing of Chris that is the standout and the focus for me.
The band opens the album with the rocker “Boom Boom Boom” which is filled with some gritty guitar playing and a little help on guitar from none other than Dweezil Zappa. The album then dives down and dirty with the bluesy “My Girl is Heartbreak”. The guitar playing on this one is nothing short of amazing. With what sounds like his Trussart Steelcaster and whatever he is running that thing through is just nasty sounding (in a good way). This is why I love this band.
They go to a softer side with Stephanie kicking off the vocals on the title track “Chasing Lights”. It is a builder of song and the emotion grows with it especially when Chris comes in with his vocals on the chorus. It is quite lovely. With the next track, “Higher Than the Light”, you get more of that wicked guitar playing by Chris. I love the tones and sonics he is generating. This is one of my favorite tracks (one of many). It is a bluesy rocker that will get you moving.
“Easily in Love” is a beautiful love song and sung with such heartfelt emotion. A mixture of guitar and keyboards are used to accentuate the pairs vocals and let me tell you they do sound great together. Side A ends with “Love Is Still A Long Road” which is a sad, bluesy ballad. It has a little country feel to it with the guitar picking and it is another wonderfully written track. They definitely aren’t one dimensional.
Side B kicks off with the amazing track, “Reaching”. Another favorite of mine and will quickly become yours. I am not sure what to say here as it is that good. The guitar playing, the vocal delivery, I mean it has everything. It is bluesy, it is rock, it is quite possibly the best song on the album (and will be towards the top of the songs of the year for me!!).
“Sweet Abandon” slows it back down with the haunting vocals of Stephanie Jean. She has such a great delivery of the lyrics that you get enraptured with her vocals. “Rightfully, Honesty” is another softer song. It is nice. Not that memorable and might be the only misstep on the whole album, song wise.
Another standout track on the album is “Feel Them Getting Closer”. They bring back the blues guitar on this one. Such an awesome groove and beat. And damn!! The guitar playing on this one is the highlight. Chris gets down and dirty again with his playing and he is star in the making. It is freakin’ fantastic!!
“If You Don’t Love Me” is another heartbreaking song. It captures the essence of heartache. “If You Don’t Love Me, I Won’t Be Loved”…that is sadness and despair captured in one line. The album ends with “Baby Be Mine” another Stephanie led track. They end out with another sad sounding song, but this is the blues so what do you expect. The minimal instrumentation on this really works well.
Now my only fault is with the production. The producer was Ethan Johns, who has worked with Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne and many others. He has a proven track record. However, the album at times was too soft sounding and the guitars were too understated. It didn’t distract hardly at all, but something that still bothered me a little. Driving down the road it is a little soft and hard to hear with the road noise. Now that being said, play it through your headphones and it is all there. Outside of it, that was the only negative I have and it is minor.
- Boom Boom Boom – Keeper
- My Girl Is A Heartbreak – Keeper
- Chasing Lights – Keeper
- Higher Than the Light – Keeper
- Easily in Love – Keeper
- Love is Still A Long Road – Keeper
- Reaching – Keeper
- Sweet Abandon – Keeper
- Rightfully, Honestly – Delete
- Feel Them Getting Closer – Keeper
- If You Don’t Love Me – Keeper
- Baby Be Mine – Keeper
The track score on the album is 11 out of 12 Songs or 92%. This is an impressive debut album. Their inspirations coming shining through these songs. They capture the emotion of the blues and that guitar playing is top-notch. The husband and wife duo are on to something big with this album.
I give the overall score a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars with the only drawback my comment on the production sound above. This is just a stellar release. I love the blues sound and it is refreshing to hear a new band still find solace in the sounds of old. Almost a throwback of sorts, but still modern and perfect for today. They show me the heart of music hasn’t died even though Pop Radio is certainly trying to kill it. For me, they are breath of fresh air in an ever tainted musical cesspool. The album comes out Tomorrow…GRAB A COPY!!!