Live in Memphis is the follow up to Ida Mae’s debut studio album ‘Chasing Lights’ which has been nominated for Americana Music UK’s ‘Album of the Year’. Ida Mae is duo Chris and Steph who hail from the UK but have also had some recent success in the US.
As a live album like this should, the record starts with a bit of dirty blues guitar before blasting into first track ‘Boom Boom Boom’. This song has a sense of urgency each time the chorus comes round, aptly worded ‘Boom boom boom’, with a pacey strum from the guitar.
Ida Mae are described as “blending elements of vintage Delta blues and gritty rock and roll with boldly modern arrangements and fearless punk swagger”, but they also have a sweet, folky side to them. This comes through on ‘Easily in Love’, a much slower and more melodic track. Most of the song consists of vocal with a cleaner, pickier guitar. The same is true of ‘Love Is Still A Long Road’, albeit with the occasional hint of percussion.
On ‘If You Don’t Love Me’ some of the heavier blues guitar is back. Then we come to standout track ‘Reaching’. This is my favourite track both live and on the album. It’s got a kick-arse beat and epic harmonies. They perform it with a raw enthusiasm that’ll either make you want dance or get up on stage with them. The track is incredibly polished in terms of the structure, the dynamics and the vocals.
That brings to me the most memorable thing about Ida Mae – their harmonies. Chris and Steph both do vocals most of the time and it’s often the case that you’re not sure who’s the lead and who’s backing. The harmonies are fantastically mixed and pitch perfect — and that applies to both the studio album and this live record.
The final track on the live EP, ‘Sick in Love’, builds momentum then completely strips back to a short acapella section before rebuilding again.
The whole EP is well recorded and mixed. The only thing wrong with it is that, at 6 tracks long, it’s too short. No doubt their support slots (for artists including Greta Van Fleet and Willie Nelson) only allow them a certain length of time, but I’d have loved to have had a full-length live album from them.
Fear not though, Ida Mae are playing London’s Bush Hall on 22 April as headliners. I’d strongly recommend you check them out if you’re into blues, folk, rock n roll or just a great vocal.
The Live in Memphis EP is out on 24 January.
Reviewer: Chrissie Duxson