Across the sea, the pulse of Americana beats strong with two musicians bringing a new style to the storied genre. With the shores of the UK now behind their backs, the husband-and-wife duo of Ida Mae sonically charge the American south. Transporting their influences of southern blues rock, the couple from the UK brought out one of the summer’s most reveling albums in Click Click Domino. The 13-track set compiles atmospherically levied resonance with an addition of guitar-shredder Marcus King. Its wicked blend of alt-folk with inspiration from the backwood roots of Tennessee interplay a soundtrack that’s jawing. But before the chips were falling for them in Nashville, they were hammering down the indie scene of Britain.
Originally a member of a different band, Chris Turpin was earning praises from NME as a part of Kill It Kid. But several years would pass and the idea of relocating to Nashville with his wife, Stephanie Jean, seemed like a necessary start for the couple to focus on a new project. Rebranding themselves as Ida Mae, the duo pounded a noisy swirl of blues-driven tracks that are backed by impassioned vocals. The romanticized version of their Americana sound was introduced in their 2019 debut LP, Chasing Lights. Their inspiring tribute to pioneers of the blues craft brought attention from other veterans of the genre, including “guitarslinger” Marcus King. The lead single “Reaching” brings the haunting vocals that strain a hard, blues rock sound that many noted artists have envied. Including the polarizing Greta Van Fleet, who optioned touring spots alongside the duo.
After an overwhelming response from their attractable infection, Ida Mae carves out another stunner in their latest album. But as their previous project holds a rebellious, albeit restrained attitude, Click Click Domino blows open the doors of urban decay. The self-titled track grasps the threshold of what’s led to many high-profile acts interested in their sound. An octane guitar riff from Marcus King amplifies Ida Mae’s entrancing vocals. But the trippiness doesn’t end there as its fishbowl music video tour of London outstretch the hypnotic vibes further. As Turpin states, “They don’t expect such aggression and push from a smiling, blonde-haired, blue-eyed couple.” The aggression that this duo ascertains doesn’t end there as the masterful acrobatic playing from King fuel their next track.
It’s not uncommon to hear the melancholic tales that only roots music can robustly animate. “Deep River” boasts the duo’s modern take of depression era roots with an outlook on current life. Its hard-nosed perspective on urban decay shatters the foundations on how intricate simple lyrics can be. With Turpin’s mystifying fingerpicking as the heart of the track, King explodes onto the bridge with a lotta soul. The at-times muddled sound seems to click perfectly with the nontraditional form of acoustic playing in a restless tone. It’s this unpredictability that has led to much acclaim from audiences who appreciate the duo’s ability to change-up their style. Whether its King closing it out or Turpin picking away, the fusion is a warm welcome.
But as the duo embraces heavier riffs and knee-jerking attention, they remember their softer side for each other. “Road to Avalon” enraptures what made the couple originally standout after departing from Turpin’s post-grunge style. The road trip references of long trails and miles of country showcase the love Ida Mae has for folk and each other. The music video’s rendering of backroad small towns is as sustaining as the sound’s mesmerizing falsetto harmonies. All brought by feelings of nostalgia over places we’ve, oddly, never been to.
From the short discography that Ida Mae has so far, it’s evident they can bring a little bit of everything to the table. If its an acoustic set in a small tavern around noon, they can play it. If it’s an amplified, hard rock concert downtown, they can play it. The versatility of Click Click Domino has something for all listeners of roots and Americana. Perfect for almost any type of setting, the album is solid for letting its domino effect cascade down the line through every track.
Written by Trenton Luber