The Dream And The Dreamer
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
No serious musician wants to be compared with their more famous partner but, let’s face it, that comes with the territory. Still, in the case of Jeremy Ivey whose wife is Margo Price and also produced this debut, it’s impossible to ignore. That’s not to denigrate Ivey’s clear talents but just to note that since Price is an integral participant, her presence is far more than just as a supportive spouse.
Ivey’s nine tracks barely break a half-hour yet there is plenty to chew on. His approach includes the reticent psychedelic country of “Gina The Tramp,” where Ivey’s eye for details as “Gina was watching from the window/ Behind a cigarette and smeared mascara/ Her eyes were like a cold bus station” paints a vivid picture of the titular woman. Even his love songs such as “Story Of A Fish” with its Neil Young-influenced harmonica and laconic ambiance glides by on unusual, even offbeat lyrics of “Still we float unaware of where we go from here/ Upstream, through the heart to find a counterpart.”
When he gets political as on the opening reserved swamp-rocking “Diamonds Back to Coal,” the words of “Is this the land that we borrowed?/ Is this the land that we stole?/ Who’s gonna be the fool tomorrow? Who’s gonna try to play that role?/ Turning diamonds back to coal” are cloaked in enough fuzzy imagery that it’s easy to miss the point unless you listen closely.
Ivey’s voice is subtle and somewhat reticent but always inviting. Producer Price lets the sparse backing drive these songs as on the introspective title track that closes the disc. As a supporting performer, she provides wispy, ghostly backup on a few tracks, in particular “Story Of A Fish” and the mid-tempo “Diamonds Back To Coal,” dueting with her husband on the pure country of “Greyhound.” On the closing title track, Ivey sings with a restrained, boyish melancholy “There’s fear in the schoolyard, fear in the church/ But the fear on TV might kill us first/ It gives the people nothing but these hollow themes/ And the all night re-runs of our broken dreams” clearly referencing the current atmosphere of America.
Little here reaches out and grabs the listener on the initial spin. The rockers stay on low boil as the ballads, country waltzes and folkie strums amble along amiably. But the whole is greater than the sum of these parts, leaving a lasting impression that most will want to return to while paying attention to the lyrics, Ivey’s strong suit.
Margo Price captures her husband’s vibe perfectly, keeping the sound open, airy and enticing. And who better to help steer Ivey’s first solo set than the person who knows him best?