For husband-and-wife duo Christopher Turpin and Stephanie Jean, what is daring is once again new as they bring a touch of British roots rock to Music City USA with their band Ida Mae. Adding innovative touches to their original songs that sound unconventional yet authentic, the singer-songwriter duo from England bring blues, folk, outlaw country and rock’n’roll to another level with vintage instruments, enveloping harmonies and old-fashioned sensibilities. Everything is linked with the release on Friday (July 16) of Click Click Domino, the couple’s second full album, and already worthy of the top 10 end-of-year lists.
Returning earlier this month to their adopted hometown of Nashville after an extended stay in the UK, Turpin and Jean have come a long way to get to where they are today. And the Two-Way Road Warriors were happy to perform live again as the holiday weekend approaches before enjoying a “pretty traditional barbecue” on July 4th at home with burgers and fires. fireworks.
Although Ida Mae’s reform is a recent addition to their timeline, Turpin and Jean have a whole history together stretching back over a decade, when they first met after joining a soul group while they were attended the University of Bath Spa in the South West of England. Calling last week from their homes, these lifelong endearing partners were ready to share many of their ups and downs in a lively chat with PopMatters, who featured their “Learn to Love Yourself Better” on the list. reading PM Picks in June.
Home alone project
Like many artists shut down by the global pandemic, Turpin and Jean had to readjust to record Click Click Domino, Ida Mae’s impressive sequel to 2019 Chase the lights, their first full-length album which was produced by frequent collaborator Ethan Johns (Ray LaMontagne, Laura Marling, Kings of Leon).
Having previously worked with other notable producers like T Bone Burnett, Ryan Hadlock (The Lumineers, Brandi Carlile, Foo Fighters) and Mr. Ward, Soulmates were set to set a new record in 2020 but – anchored by the pandemic – had nowhere to go.
Alone at home in Nashville, where they’ve lived since leaving the UK in 2019, they “set up the entire living room in a studio” during their quarantine and decided to produce the project themselves.
“We kind of thought, ‘Hey, this is an opportunity for us to really show off what we’ve learned,’ offers Turpin, whose raw, distinctive voice and fine fretwork help Ida Mae roar into uncharted territory. “Put our money where our mouth is and show what we can really do. We saved for a studio because we are independent artists [having their own imprint while Thirty Tigers handles distribution]. …
“We really care about being as independent and as cultured as possible and as organic as possible. So we thought ‘spend all the money we saved (Laughs) right at the start of a pandemic and get some of the equipment that we know works for us and see what we can do. ”
While Johns on drums and Nick Pini on bass – which Jean calls their “favorite rhythm section” – were stuck in the UK and recorded from their own home studios, a few prominent American musicians were able to join Ida Mae for electrifying appearances.
Two guitarists who bonded with Turpin and Jean on previous tours have been featured separately on three explosive tracks – Marcus King (“Click Click Domino”, “Deep River”) and Greta Van Fleet’s Jake Kiszka (“Long Gone & Heartworn “).
“We just invited them to dinner. And we’d hang out together, we’d drink a little bit and eat curry and just say, “Hey, do you want to take any trail passes? “Recalls Turpin, who previously mentioned a” pretty exaggerated guitar. battle ”he had with Kiszka in the kitchen.
Presentation of “Deep River” during their Live stream June 24 on Mandolin, Jean playfully stings her husband by making jokes about “King’s incredible solo on the record, and a solo that I don’t think will ever be imitated live by anyone”. There was no nasty retort from Turpin, only a tongue-in-cheek “Thank you very much.”
Turpin and Jean often sang live takes of songs like “Click Click Domino” (feel the vibe of the White Stripes) and “Deep River” without a click track, then they jam with King before sending them through the pond in their rhythm section. “So that was a really weird way to put together a record,” Turpin admits. “For me, I listen to ‘Deep River’ and I feel like we were all in the room together. Which is quite remarkable. But that’s just because we’ve been fortunate enough to work with great musicians, I think.
A little over a week from Click Click Domino, Turpin expresses cautious optimism, saying, “Our expectations for the whole album have changed but we’ve been able to… release the songs slowly, which has been very beneficial to us. We were able to reach a slightly larger audience by broadcasting it online. ”
Take a gradual leap of faith from the softer touch provided on Chase the lights was also a plus, because the buzz is built by word of mouth. “With Chase the lights, we were constantly on the road, ”says Jean. “It was like selling records on the road and just keeping… we were in this bubble. Whereas with this album, we are more in a kind of online bubble and follow more. But so far everyone seems to like what’s out so far, which is good.
Trying to avoid getting trapped in the predictable American genre that Nashville-based bands sometimes find themselves in, Turpin dares Click Click Domino to “sonically push the kind of fringes of what you can do with it, thus combining synthetic-sounding drum machines from the early 1970s and weird synthesizers with a resonator slide guitar.” … It’s really exciting for us.
“Seeing how we can recontextualize and reframe a lot of those sounds was what we were trying to achieve. … Reshape some of the things we are used to hearing. … We are very proud of what we have done. It’s not necessarily revolutionary, but we did what we wanted to do.
After what Jean calls “a breakthrough” with this iteration of Ida Mae that spanned 10 to 12 years, it’s worth knowing how she and Turpin first brought together similar musical interests and adventurous ideas to become the proud parents of a bouncing baby group. .