Americana duo Ida Mae have a way of creating magic through their music. Comprised of husband and wife Christopher and Stephanie Jean Turpin, the duo traversed across the pond from their native London to Nashville where they’ve released two spectacular projects in the form of their 2019 debut album, Chasing Lights, and follow up 2020 EP, Raining For You.
But all roads lead to Avalon – a faraway, mythical land they capture in “Road to Avalon,” the opening track on their upcoming sophomore album, Click Click Domino, out July 16th via Thirty Tigers. The duo capture the mystical feeling of Avalon — the famed island in Celtic mythology that serves as a place of renewal — in the song, which opens with the plucking of a haunting banjo and ringing ukulele. Met with their equally enchanting voices, the lyrics call on vivid imagery that compares highways to ribbons, the twosome traveling roads so deep they feel like lost dogs with “raw boned, stony feet.”
Part of what makes Ida Mae stand out is the way they allow the music take its time, each note simmering as they detail the “heartaches and visions” they experienced on the road to their destination. The couple says the song was inspired by the cities they passed through that felt abandoned or forgotten, with the goal of creating a “sparse Trans-Atlantic dream state,” honoring this mission through lyrics one can’t help but want to dissect. “We are the names that came before you/Now we’re just drifters barricaded at the border/Sharing whispers in the shadows painting pictures on our gallows,” they sing, with a sense of passion that can be felt through the speakers.
“Road to Avalon” is merely a continuation of the distinct and eclectic sound Ida Mae has established over the years – the melodies allow the mind to wander, while the lyrics pull you back in with their poetic nature. The gorgeous title track from last year’s EP, which will also appear on Click Click Domino, exemplifies the duo’s songcraft. “Raining For You” evokes the feeling of driving through wide open spaces as they sing, “In the stillness/You begin to rust/A heartbeat ain’t enough without some love/The night keeps calling/The sky keeps falling/And I keep raining for you.”
Despite the grandiose, cinematic nature of these tracks, most of them were recorded in the couple’s home-built studio, in two or three live takes. Initially, they had wanted to record Click Click Domino in a more traditional studio setting, with the English producer who helmed their debut; though their plans were stymied by the halt of international travel, they leaned into faithfully reproducing the energy of their live show, giving new life to the songs they’d played to enthusiastic crowds night after night before the pandemic hit.
You can hear that energy best in the scorching “Click Click Domino” as it offers a searing take on the vapid world of social media with its “aesthetic apathetic,” “prima donna playboys” and “populism politics” as told over a bluesy, gritty, guitar-heavy melody.
Ida Mae dance among a beautiful marriage of country, bluegrass and folk, their production efforts taking the listener for a scenic ride through their imaginations — proving they have what it takes to leave a distinct mark on the modern world of Americana music.