Jeremy Ivey has released the tender track “Trial By Fire”, a song that rises and falls on a dancing nylon string guitar as it pursues the inner peace that comes with accepting your truest self.
“My wife Margo is always one of my main muses because she’s my best friend and the person I spend most of my time with,” Ivey said of the song’s inspiration. “She was going through a low point deciding to cut alcohol out of her life and feeling like she would lose friends and that even I would think less of her. We sat around the fire pit at our house one night and talked it out. The next morning I wrote this song. It came out so fast, I thought I had stolen it. The simple message is that all a person needs to be in this world is themselves.”
“Trial By Fire” will appear on Invisible Pictures, Ivey’s latest album which will come out next month on March 11. In 2019 Ivey released his critically acclaimed solo debut, The Dream and The Dreamer, which NPR hailed as “modern, indie [and] super-cool” and Rolling Stone likened to “Mutations-era Beck.” His 2020 follow-up, the pointed and timely Waiting Out The Storm, was similarly well-received, with The Nashville Scene declaring that it “deconstruct[s] the ills of the day—among them racism, xenophobia and the growing wealth gap—with a critic’s precision and a poet’s compassion.”
By the time he began work on what would become Invisible Pictures, though, Ivey had shifted his gaze inwards, stepping away from the politically charged social commentary of Waiting Out The Storm to reflect on his own tumultuous journey. In just the past few years alone, he’d welcomed a daughter into the world, survived a particularly brutal bout of COVID, and watched the entire music industry slip into freefall. With touring off the table for more than a year, he decided stretch himself compositionally, returning to the complex, harmonically sophisticated music that had fascinated him in his younger years but had taken a backseat since his move to Nashville.
“I started listening to a lot of Paco de Lucía and playing more nylon string guitar at home,” Ivey recalls. “I started using more passing tones in my writing, too, and then I’d make up chords to go along with those melodies, even if I didn’t know what it was that I was playing.”
Then when it came to recording the album, Ivey tapped celebrated producer Andrija Tokic and tasked him with assembling a band of players Ivey had never worked with before. While some of the musicians ran in similar circles to Ivey around Nashville, others, like jazz violinist Billy Contreras, were brand new to him, and the infusion of fresh, diverse collaborators only served to elevate the spirit of freedom and discovery already at play in the writing.
“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.”