REVIEW: Jeremy Ivey’s “The Dream and the Dreamer” is Personal and Political

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One of the best aspects of Americana music is the elasticity of both the musicians and the fans. Artists don’t feel pigeonholed into one narrow vein of music, and listeners are willing to entertain different lyrical topics and musical styles (although Sturgill Simpson’s upcoming release seems to be testing that latter willingness to stretch). Nashville-based (and Georgia-raised) musician Jeremy Ivey has lived a few musical lives, spending time in brassy country band Buffalo Clover, playing with Margo Price, and now releasing his first album, The Dream And The Dreamer, which has him stepping out from, and beyond, the country/Americana world.

The album is personal and unapologetically political, with a style that’s hard to peg. The lead track, “Diamonds Back To Coal,” is both guitar-jangled and piano-driven. While wandering across what he tabs, “The land that we borrowed/…The land that we stole,” he sees the absolute halting of social progress that we’ve made, hinting that “Make America Great Again” has turned our gem of a country back to…well…you know. The musical influences lean more rock than country: that jangle on “Diamonds” has a Petty-ish feel, “Gina The Tramp” is very Springsteen-esque in title and storytelling, and the country that does pop up in “Worry Doll” is by way of Neil Young.

Itinerance is a consistent theme on the album. “Story Of A Fish” chronicles Ivey’s personal sense of place – “If you don’t know where I’ve been/Then you won’t know who I am” – and if he’s even in the right place at all: “Trying to swim through stone/I was born so far from home.” “Greyhound” nails the feel of a long, twisted, aromatic ride on a bus, including the fact that you don’t exactly see the best of the US from those windows: “We changed cars in Virginia/Where the south, it fell down/You can still see the fight is lost in all these little towns.”

“Greyhound” is one of the songs featuring vocals by Ivey’s frequent musical (and marital) collaborator, Margo Price. Price produced the album, and while being partners and parents has certainly influenced their work together, the songwriting voice here is all Ivey’s. “Ahead, Behind,” in addition to having one fantastic guitar solo, urges us not to get lost in the noise: “Don’t leave what’s ahead, behind.” And the title track, an earnest, piano-driven ballad, pits worry against hope: “There’s fear in the schoolyard, fear in the church/But the fear on TV might kill us first.” Hope doesn’t seem to be winning. It’s bleak, sure. But it’s very much of the moment.

All songs on The Dream And The Dreamer were written by Ivey, with the exception of “Story Of A Fish,” which was co-written by Price. The album was engineered by Mark Galup and Erik Thompson, mixed by Matt Ross-Spang, and mastered by John Baldwin. Ivey plays guitar, harmonica and keys. His band, the Extraterrestrials, includes Price, Evan Donahue (electric guitar, vocals), Coley Hinson (bass, vocals), Josh Minyard (drums, percussion), and Alex Munoz (lap steel).

You can order your copy of The Dream And The Dreamer here: https://secure.kingsroadmerch.com/anti-records/artist/?id=803

And here to find a tour date near you: https://www.facebook.com/jeremyblainivey/app/123966167614127/

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