Jeremy James Meyer Keeps the Songwriter Torch Burning on Eclectic ‘Alive & OK’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Jeremy James Meyer has managed to channel the ghosts of Jerry Jeff Walker, John Prine and Guy Clark on his latest, Alive & OK, while also coming off as much more than just a well-stocked jukebox and putting his own unique stamp on the genre.

On his second album with a full band, the Seattle-based Meyer slips in and out of roots music and seamlessly flows from folk to country to blues to rock, feeling right at home in each genre. With his deep, captivating vocals, Meyer unravels a dozen tales of being lost and finding your way back home, an optimistic tone that weaves in and out of the songs here. The album was recorded live in Enterprise, Oregon at the 100-plus-year old OK Theater. 

On the infectious opening track “Brick Wall Blues,” Meyer is joined by Caitlin Jemma, sharing vocals and repaying a favor to Meyer, who also put in time as a bass player in her band. The guitar and piano competition on the track is carried throughout much of the rest of this record, like on the fantastic “Rhinestoned Cowboy,” a seemingly autobiographical song. Meyers even flirts with jazz on “Bon Voyage,” a track whose music would seem a little off on any other folk or Americana album but fits perfectly into the eclectic collection Meyers has assembled around this record. The album closes on the beautifully restrained “Test of Time,” about growing old, punctuated by subtle horns. If you listen close enough, you can almost hear the phone ringing from other artists looking to cover the track, it’s that charming.  

Last year was a devastating time for fans of Americana, country, and pretty much anyone who loved a well-written song with the passing of Walker, Prine and Billy Joe Shaver all in the span of six months. It’s heartening though to know there is another generation of talented singers and songwriters eschewing current trends and fads and focusing simply on writing timeless, relatable music agnostic of specific genres. Meyers is certainly one of those acolytes to the greats, alongside peers like Todd Snider and Hayes Carll carrying that tradition into the future.     

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