UK artist Lucy May is having a 2015 to remember, a year in which all of her hard work and dedication to music appear to be paying off. Amongst the highlights have been a hugely successful pop-up stage appearance at London’s Country to Country festival and more recently touring with US duo Striking Matches, effortlessly warming up the crowds at their UK shows. Kent-born Lucy grew up in a household full of 60’s music, developing a love for the likes of The Beatles & the Motown sound. Exploring music further she discovered a passion for Country music, ‘I was listening to all sorts of music but I love being able to tell a story with plain & simple lyrics and melodies and I’m excited how country music can appeal to anyone, young or old‘. The combination of these influences are apparent in both her musical style and also her fabulously retro look.
Debut single ‘Paper Heart’ was released back in 2013 and received widespread praise, impressively managing to be playlisted at BBC Radio 2 along the way. Since then Lucy has been hard at work recording new material in Nashville, readying a debut album release, a taster of which was offered on an enticing 4-track EP in February. This month sees the release of ‘Whirlwind’ a collection of eleven tracks which allow Lucy May to permanently make her mark on the Country music scene.
Title track ‘Whirlwind‘ kickstarts the album perfectly, a swirling dervish of a Country-pop track. Storming percussion, big background vocals and a energy-packed performance from Lucy on a song celebrating life’s infinite possibilities. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face. That contented feeling continues throughout the fabulous ‘We Got It‘, an unapologetic celebration of the joys of love that blends Country with a fabulous reggae flavour, featuring clever use of steel guitar.
Debut single ‘Paper Heart‘ makes a welcome appearance, a mid-paced ballad achingly describing the attempt to remain strong during a break-up, which sadly is not always possible. Cleverly written lyrics, fully embracing the paper theme, which also display an incredible honesty are sung with the perfect level of vulnerability by Lucy. The upbeat ‘Looking Out A Window’ proves to be the ideal antidote, a shot of positivity insisting that ‘the one’ is just around the corner. Driving acoustic guitars & banjo combine to propel along an enthralling track. Lucy’s early musical influences are clearly on show on gloriously soulful cheating song ‘Rosemary Lane’, boasting fabulously husky vocals from Lucy. The track’s Country credentials are boosted by strong fiddle & steel, amidst the big organ fills.
‘Hooked On Your Love’ is not quite the ode to romance its’ title or upbeat melody suggest, a listen to the lyrics find the singer describing the ability for a heart to blindly fall for the wrong person. Lucy worked with award-winning producer Jeff Cohen on the album and ‘Hooked On Your Love’ is a prime example of the fantastic production values across ‘Whirlwind’, a track that would sit comfortably on US Country radio. The terrifically funky ‘Keep Your Hands Off My Man’ finds Lucy on feisty form, issuing the titular warning to all the ladies eyeing up her beau. A sizzling electric guitar solo add to the excitement as Lucy issues the caution ‘don’t make me help you understand…keep your hands off my man‘, on one of the album’s finest cuts.
Mid-tempo ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ describes those vivid dreams which feel so real that we would rather experience them for just a while longer. Lyrically the track digs a little deeper than most but melodically it passes by without any real note, there are far stronger offerings here. Hands down one of those is the cracking ‘What You Looking At’, an impeccable blend of traditional & modern Country. A big, brash chorus featuring pop-flavoured background vocals sits perfectly atop bold, sweeping steel guitar fills on a sensational track.
Taking us back to the sounds of the 60’s again is the moody ‘Dishonest Things’, tackling the need to keep working on a relationship & keep that vital spark lit. Lush strings & grand backing vocals lend a real depth to the track, which showcases an edgier sound from Lucy. Album closer ‘Hole In My Heart’ takes a musical step back to provide one of its most emotional moments. Predominantly just acoustic guitar, piano & Lucy’s gorgeous vocals, the background of the song is that of deep personal significance to the singer who admits ‘I had been trying to find the right words for this song for a couple of years and every time I would write something, I would scrap it and start again. I finally just said it exactly how it was and let my emotions take over‘. That use of emotional instinct shines through on the song and makes it all the more touching.
‘Whirlwind’ is released on 17th May and introduces Lucy May as a UK Country artist of considerable talent. A collection of strong, original material benefiting from a hugely appealing ‘directness’, eschewing unnecessary lyrical tricks and focussing on honesty. As a vocalist there is no question this lady can sing and has a style perfectly-pitched to bridge the Country/Pop divide. Fittingly that is exactly what ‘Whirlwind’ accomplishes, managing to appeal to both markets whilst never sacrificing its integrity…or Country heart.