Kentish Town Waltz – Imelda May

An Irish folk inflected ballad about the grotty end of the English Capital. Kentish Town Waltz is a song of poverty and commitment from the perspective of a young couple living hard times in the big city.

May’s usual schtik is rockabilly Queen with indie overtones. The thing about someone having a very specific retro image is you often see their performance as pastiche. To hear her go more folksy and become a balladeer like this makes for a good ‘end of the night, tears in your beers’ moment.

The autobiographical nature of the track makes it all sound sincere and the fact that 2010 is now considered long enough ago to get nostalgic about adds a heft to it.

With Imelda coming to London from Dublin to make it big. Having to live through pound shop dependency and 4 days stews we get the deal. The song is placed firmly in time with a reference to the eclipse of august 1999. But it’s the togetherness and the strength of the relationship that is the songs real topic.

When May presents a 50’s influenced style with a comic book image and a upcycled vintage dressed backing band you could easily write it off as novelty. Like a hipster Showaddywaddy. Flipping expectation likes this makes it feel real. Dirty under the fingernails, cold in the morning and musty in the evening real.

One thought on “Kentish Town Waltz – Imelda May

  1. I’ve never really bought into her stuff cause it always feel a bit contrived. I don’t know what it is… she has some good tunes, right enough.

    This is probably her best tune. Maybe. Like you say, there’s something about this one.

    Liked by 1 person

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