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Albums Of The Week: Jeremy James Meyer | Alive & OK

The Seattle singer-songwriter kicks up his heels on his cosmic sophomore set.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Alive & OK is the second full band album from Jeremy James Meyer. It was recorded live in Enterprise, Oregon at the historic OK Theater with Bart Budwig at the helm. Surrounded by some of the most audacious players in the west, Jeremy explores the universal elements of failure and regrowth using the full range of roots music styles, from folk and blues to country and rock.

Jeremy James Meyer is an artificer of song. A songwriter’s songwriter. He crafts redemptive songs full of woody rock ‘n’ roll tones. Alive & OK comes out swingin like saloon doors on its opener Brick Wall Blues. The song features cosmic cowgirl Caitlin Jemma on vocals, and lively guitar and piano contributions from a full band. Right away you can hear Jeremy’s peripatetic personality finding a home among his Northwest counterparts. The song typifies Meyer’s positivity despite hardship, a trait that finds him welcome wherever he lands. Cat On A Chain finds Jeremy turning hard luck into opportunity to explore the American west, and continues the country rock streak with wailing electric. His experiences with hard work, the road, and the expansive natural vistas of the American west become his songs. Rhinestoned Cowboy is perhaps the best song he’s ever written about his lifestyle. Forlorn mandolin mingles with acoustic guitar and piano, and organ drone as the song trots along and Jeremy sings “Let the wind toss your hair, quit your frettin’ there child / had your fun playin’ cowboy, now come home for a while”.

His deep, penetrating voice has a wide range, and is especially captivating in his droning, lower register. Jeremy is mesmerizing on his folk songs like Bon Voyage, a hot jazz-influenced song of resilience, with stabbing piano and electric guitar prodding Jeremy’s winding verses. His duet with phantom baritone Matthew Neal Shulz on Thought That You Could Tell a must listen. Woodshop Rock — featuring Taco Tapes cohort Ben Walden making harmonica sound like a firestorm in a reed marsh — is a country rocker in a reverb coil, blasting lessons learned from a lifetime as a craftsman that takes its cues from hillbilly music as much as it does Dave Bartholemew and Ike & Tina Turner arrangements.

He spent the last decade drifting around, a tool-belt troubadour, working carpentry by day, bringing folk music to the people at night. As with most well traveled songwriters it’s hard to tell where the road ends and Jeremy James Meyer begins. Meyer is also a prolific session musician, performing on albums for Bart Budwig, Goldish and Andy Valentine, and playing bass in Caitlin Jemma’s live band The Goodness. On his eponymous album from 2018, one can hear the distinct influence of his then-home New Orleans dancing its way into his songs. Horn sections and piano marched through the album like a second line. In 2020 he started the year releasing the deeply groovy EP Bobbie’s House (produced by Matt Costa) in California, and stood up the folk project Taco Tapes in Washington. As part of the not-so-traditional folk duo, he released the album Trad Is Rad in 2020 to critical acclaim. All the while he had the rollicking Alive & OK under his hat.

At his record label headquarters, original mixes of Alive & OK made it into constant rotation because of its affirmative nature. His voice, lyrics, and acoustic melodies tangle into great gordian knots of human complexity that he undoes with a blow of harmonica, or an upbeat chorus. His work is inspired by the weird pockets of America he’s lived in, breezed through, or entertained. On songs like Low Gap Swagger, Jeremy’s characters are working through complex personal feelings with a good feelin’ full rock band — vibrato guitar, and gentle chorus of backing vocals. Jeremy isn’t afraid to fly off the grid. He channels post-Beatles Paul McCartney / early Wings on That’s OK — relying on ferro guitar melody, and polyrhythmic drums (and glorious backing vocals from Margo Cilker) to craft an incredible song that couldn’t be further from country, but couldn’t be closer to the mark we need to be hitting in personal discussions in 2021.

Like our favorite songwriters (ahem, Jerry Jeff Walker) his songs seamlessly blend plain-language and poetic lyricism. They wander from personal truth to outlaw legends. He’s capable of cathartic protest songs, cosmic country canticles, and dive bar singalongs. Whenever and however your path crosses with Jeremy James Meyer’s (and it will), prepare for an enchanting, psychedelic trip through cosmic American music.”

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