The third song on Jeremy Ivey‘s sophomore album, Waiting Out the Storm, is a bit of an outlier: “The orphan of the group” is how the singer-songwriter describes “Movies,” a reflection on the transient nature of life.
“They say the hardest parts of the day / Are the beginning and the end / But the hardest part for me / Is knowing the day won’t come again,” Ivey sings after a mournful harmonica and weepy guitar solo. “So while you’re living in your stolen time / Remember to know just what it means / Some day, some actor is gonna dress like you and steal your scenes.”
Ivey arrived at the idea for the song after watching his wife, fellow artist Margo Price – who, once again, produced Ivey’s record and co-wrote with him – struggle with the emulation by others that comes with success. There’s always someone waiting in the wings to take what you did and, at best, build on it or, at worst, copy it, Ivey realized — just look at how music itself has evolved. All any of us can hope for is a legacy that allows someone to remember our contributions.
“Enjoy the life you have, because it is brief,” reflects Ivey, who battled COVID-19 for weeks this spring. “That was something that I definitely learned this spring … It could be me anytime.”
Even before an illness that drove home the fragility of life, Ivey was wasting no time in his music career. The 10-track Waiting Out the Storm arrives Friday (Oct. 16), only about 13 months after Ivey released his debut record, The Dream and the Dreamer; in fact, he admits, he’s already working on his next project.
“I don’t really care anymore about if it’s perfect,” admits Ivey, who used to struggle with singing in public. “I think it’s more about what I might have to say, and if the songs are interesting to people. As long as I deliver them with conviction, that’s all.”
A thread of resigned disillusion runs through Waiting Out the Storm, from the peppy “Things Could Get Much Worse” to the cautionary “Someone Else’s Problem.” “Tomorrow People” and “How It Has to Be,” meanwhile, bookend the album by pointing out that the more things change … well, you know the rest, though Ivey points out that it’s not quite as doom-and-gloom-y as it might seem.
“There’s [always] been this obvious black vs. white battle, this left vs. right battle … All this stuff’s been going on since I was born … so I guess, I don’t know, it’s just our reality,” Ivey says — but, he adds, “There’s always just as much good in the world as there is bad …
“It’s a little Buddhist of me to say, but it really is the truth,” Ivey continues. “You hear more of the negative, but the positive is there, too. It’s just not being reported or shoved in your face.”
That small glimmer of hope, too, is there across Waiting Out the Storm, even as Ivey sings at the end of each chorus in “How It Has to Be,” “That’s how it works / That’s how it has to be.”
“You’re born black, you’re born white; you’re born poor, you’re born rich. You’re automatically hated by someone else, you know? There’s no middle ground. Just being alive is some sort of — you’ve already crossed the line; you’re already guilty,” he says, before continuing, “It is a little dour, but there’s even light inside a cave, you know? …
“Aren’t we living in the lesser of two evils?”
Waiting Out the Storm is political without picking a side, Ivey insists. He has his views and casts his votes accordingly, but he’s wary of most politicians, even those who align with his values.
“I definitely don’t hate anybody because of the way that they vote … It’s not about that, you know? You look at the history of the Republicans and the Democrats, the roles that they represent now were actually reversed …,” Ivey says. “You might not agree with someone on the abortion issue or the tax issue, but in the end, are you gonna save that person: If they’re falling off a cliff, are you gonna grab them?
“I don’t think that preaching from one side does anything,” he adds. “If we’re in trouble, we’re all in the same trouble.”
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