You simply will not find many stories more remarkable than that of Jeremy Ivey. A drug-addicted birth mom, a stroke, a strict Christian upbringing and itinerance and homelessness have all had a place in his life, a life which was on shaky ground due to a serious bout with COVID-19 earlier this year. Through all of that, he’s managed to become one of the most respected musicians in the Nashville scene, and he released his first solo album, The Dream and the Dreamer, last year. Less than 13 world-changing months later, Ivey’s back with record number two, and Waiting Out the Storm is both a lyrical wellspring and a guitar-lover’s dream.
As much as we’ve taken to knocking 2020 (and deservedly so), Ivey suggests in the album’s first track, “Tomorrow People,” that no era is without its serious problems – “Have you sold the world itself? Do your dreams have commercials?” he asks of folks living in a not-too-distant future. That’s right, friends – things CAN get worse. More emphasized in the song, though, is Ivey’s hope that we get our own, current collective act together – “Do you still blame the sh!t you do/On different colored people.” In other words, we can ask the future for the answers, or we can determine the answers ourselves. All that, plus the first of several great guitar solos on the record.
There are a bevy of late 70s/early 80s rock influences on Waiting Out the Storm. “Paradise Alley,” which describes a place where both evildoers (“He stole the world with no trace of need”) and scapegoats take refuge. The place recalls a sci-fi flick, and the tune comes with the appropriate synth sounds. “Movies” evokes Crazy Horse, complete with a Neil Young-ish harmonica line from Ivey. “Things Could Get Much Worse” features some excellent slide work and a jaunty organ line which, when paired with the video for the song (which features a post-COVID Ivey decked out in a hazmat suit and interacting with Nashville tourists), might come off as an homage to an 80s movie montage. And “Hands Down in Your Pockets” has the feel of those 70s trucker songs – rapid-fire lyrics piling on top of each other, delivered in two voices and shaken up by frequent tempo changes. But instead of the smokies of the 70s, the villains here are the monied – Jeff Bezos, Disney, and Pope Francis, In Ivey’s eyes – as he sees “The golden rule turning to rust” in pursuit of another billion.
It’s not just those big targets that Ivey has in his sights, however – it’s all of us. In “Hands in Your Pockets,” he mentions something we’ve all done when we see that man, woman or child under the highway overpass – “Driving by, you lock the eye/But turn away the head.” But the album’s centerpiece swings the heaviest hammer. “Someone Else’s Problem” was written with Margo Price (who is also the album’s producer, Ivey’s wife and an all-around badass). Driven by acoustic guitar, the song follows a character through life as he does barely more than the minimum while contributing to poverty, climate change and overall division and expecting someone – everyone – else to pick up his slack. When presented the opportunity to help – “And you wanna give them something but you don’t have any cash” – an excuse always follows – “Besides you know you pay your taxes, the city should clean up all this trash.” As the music builds over the six-minute runtime and the excuses pile up, I guarantee you’ll find one that you’ve given – I know I did. The song, like the record overall, isn’t so much a call to action as a request to just do a LITTLE bit more than next to nothing. In Ivey’s mind, after all, “There’s no such thing as someone else’s problem.”
Waiting Out the Storm was produced by Margo Price, engineered by Joe Costa, mixed by Matt Ross-Spang and mastered by John Baldwin. All songs were written by Jeremy Ivey, with Price co-writing “Tomorrow People” and “Someone Else’s Problem.” Ivey’s excellent band, The Extraterrestrials, is comprised of Evan Donohue (guitar, vocals), Coley Hinson (bass, vocals), Alex Munoz (guitar, lap steel) and Josh Minyard (drums, percussion). Additional musicians on the album include Price (vocals, percussion), Dillion Napier (drums, percussion), Micah Hulscher (organ, piano, synth, electric piano) and Dexter Green (vocals).
Order Waiting Out the Storm here: https://kingsroadmerch.com/anti-records/artist/?id=803&ffm=FFM_de34b99c6e56762e0d100fb1020fa469
Check out the video for “Things Could Get Much Worse” here: