Introspective collection from Nashville multi-instrumentalist.
If having lived life to the full is important to making great music – then Jeremy Ivey is really well prepared. This third solo record is full of highly personal, invigorating songs that not only reveal a lot about the artist, but also show a wide range of influences. Born in San Antonio, Ivey in infancy suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of his mothers numerous battles with drug addiction. Expected never to walk or talk, the fighter in Ivey countered all the negativity and he grew up to be an accomplished poet and songwriter. He was adopted into a strict Christian family and was unable to listen to popular music and led a very insular life. At fifteen he hit the road to search for himself and in so doing he played guitar to make ends meet, (learning guitar from a Beatles chord book), suffered homelessness, living in a tent in Boston. Eventually he ended up in Nashville, where serendipity appeared when he met fellow struggling musician Margo Price. They have both now established accomplished solo music careers and they work brilliantly together.
For this new album, Ivey felt it was the right time to be more introspective and he wonderfully juxtaposes some dark personal experiences with jaunty and feel-good tales. Bittersweet opener ‘Orphan Child’ mixes the feeling of being lost in modern times with the emotions emanating from being a foster child and is a perfect taster for what joys are to come.
Ivey had deliberately wanted to challenge himself so decided to work with celebrated producer Andrija Tokic, who assembled a group of musicians he’d never worked with before – including jazz violinist Billy Contreras.
The second track, ‘Trial By Fire’, is a beautiful combination of piano, acoustic guitar and strings on another contemplative tune. ‘Keep Me High’ is a co-write with Price and originated with Ivey having a chorus inspired by their new baby (“I got a new love that lasts forever”) but he couldn’t progress further. Price nails it with a few lines about someone named Becky, who goes down to Florida with her undercover lawyer – and you’ve got the album highlight; a toe tapping stunner. Many of the songs evoke the idiosyncratic singer-songwriters of the 70’s – but with a lovely modern twist.
Even though a lot of the songs have challenging subject matters at their core, there’s always a feeling of hope, like the optimistic and incredibly catchy ‘Invisible Pictures’ (“nothing could bring me down today”) which strives to find optimism from the Christmas Day bombing that rocked Nashville in 2020.
This is a wonderful collection of inspiring and varied songs that shows how accomplished a songwriter and performer Ivey has become. Glorious.