Invisible Pictures, Jeremy Ivey’s third album for ANTI- Records, arrives March 11 and while his prior two albums The Dreamer and The Dream and 2020’s Waiting Out The Storm dealt more with society-at-large and the world around him, Invisible Pictures is touchingly personal, stories by a man who has been through it yet stands assuredly in spite of it all. Suffering a stroke at birth, doctors said Ivey may never walk or talk, but instead the orphaned poet made his way eventually to Nashville, into a creative and literal marriage with artist Margo Price, and now nurtures an individual songwriting career sharing his complex vocal and musical narratives. “This is the kind of songwriting I’ve always been drawn to,” says Ivey. “The perpetual motion, the intricate melodies, the sprawling arrangements. This album is the real me.”
Recorded at Nashville’s Bomb Shelter studio, Ivey had producer Andrija Tokic round up players who would be new to Ivey in order to best pursue music without pre-conceived notions. “A whole lot of different people with a whole lot of different musical backgrounds came in and out of the studio while we were recording,” says Ivey. “When Andrija heard a sound in his head, he’d just go find the player who could make it happen.”
Ivey then took off to Los Angeles to finish the record with Rob Schnapf, the resulting polish a clean Elliott Smith harmonic sheen shining most brightly on middle tracks “Phantom Limb” and “Empty Game.” The former tells the story of cutting abuse from one’s life and the latter addresses reckoning with the individual as a commodity within a larger consumer society. Both topics would be fitting on a Smith record, and like Smith, heaviness is buoyed by music that feels weightless and writing that bites back through humor and poignancy. No line frivolous, no notes out of place. The album opens with the biographical “Orphan Child” where Ivey sings “I’m an orphan honey, I’m a no-name nomad living in this great unknown… Yes I’m an orphan but I’m better on my own,” and title track, “Invisible Pictures,” carries this resilient theme as Ivey addresses the aftermath of the 2020 Christmas Day bombing in Nashville while declaring “Nothing could bring me down today, nothing could take my mind away.”
Ivey explains how he can remain in light while addressing tough topics, “I try to put a little bit of hope into everything I do,” Ivey reflects. “No matter how heavy, no matter how dark things may get, there’s always a little bit of light shining through.”
Ivey’s songs are shining for listeners of WMOT, Lightning 100, and Colorado Sound, and Ivey hits the road in March in support of Mike Campbell & The Dirty Knobs.