Midwestern Singer/Songwriter Jeremy Todd has a story to tell and you’d be wise to listen. If you do, you’ll not only connect with the lyrical themes of personal loss and hard-earned redemption, but you’ll also find greater understanding and, even, a touch of humor. A true songwriter inspired by traditional artists such as John Prine, with a modern indie/folk appeal of The Avett Brothers, Nathaniel Rateliff and Shakes Graves, Todd tells stories that are so deeply personal you can’t help but find a little piece of yourself around every clever turn of phrase.
Growing up in rural Illinois among a near-endless sprawl of abandoned homes, predatory Pay-Day Advance-filled strip malls, and church marquees threatening eternal damnation, Todd found his escape early on through music. There’s a story there of Todd as an unafraid first-grader donning sharpie painted black fingernails, a flowing robe, and a gaudy black wig to lip-synch Aerosmith at a school talent show. There’s another of a young kid desperate to make his sports-obsessed father proud, only to fail at every game he tried until, eventually, mutual embarrassment led to the merciful gift of a drum kit. As a seventh-grader, Todd would lose himself for hours, drumming along to the Foo Fighters, Green Day, and Nirvana. Todd took advantage of playing music any chance he could get. Worship bands soon gave way to punk rock bands, swapping sleepy Sunday mornings and pressed slacks for late-night, sweaty basement shows and holey jeans. A decade followed of close calls and almost-there’s, the formation of a promising new project, the desolation of another, the never-ending climb up a mountain of artistic ambition, the kind where every new peak only reveals how much further there is still to go. When faced with failure and insurmountable odds, we have precisely two options: quit or keep going. Todd chose the latter at every summit, a recurring theme in his story.
Right when he thought he may actually give up, an afternoon home with his sons led Todd to write “The Eager Movement” in 2012. Armed with a killer hook (“What’s the rush now? / Don’t get caught up now”) that could get just as easily be hummed along to in a coffee shop as it could serve as a personal mantra, “The Eager Movement” became just that, the start of a promising solo career. Still that courageous first-grader, minus the painted nails and Steven Tyler strut, Todd was where he belonged: out from behind the drum kit and center stage once again.
In 2016, Todd hit the studio with personal hero Mike Marsh, known for his work with The Avett Brothers and Dashboard Confessional. Together they recorded Jeremy’s “Conversations” EP, featuring a crowd favorite “The Eager Movement”. Taking the title to heart, Todd hit the road, opening for a few shows for Jim Avett, a short set before Amy Helm at a local festival, and The Way Down Wanderers. For the next three years, life continued its predictably unpredictable game of give and take. There were packed, sold-out shows with the audience hanging on Todd’s every word. There were dank, desolate dive bars where even the regulars couldn’t be bothered to look up from their drink. There were friends and family who turned their backs. There was the birth of a daughter, the loss of a beloved grandmother, the end of a long-term relationship, the sudden, suicide of an estranged father, the start of an all-time love and the blessing of a newborn son. Through it all, Todd kept climbing, determined to see the view from the next peak rather than the desolate drop that loomed below.
A fateful 2019 music festival in Makanda, Illinois led Todd to meet the musicians who would become his backing band on his new self-titled album. Better known for their work in The Way Down Wanderers, John Merikoski (drums/percussion), John Williams (bass/bgv) and Collin Krause (featured on “Realistic Love Song”), would lend a hand, with co-producers Matthew Pittman and Sammy Hinrichsen playing guitar, rounding out Todd’s Indie/Folk Americana sound.
Todd’s self-titled album was recorded over two separate sessions. The first of which occurred in August 2020 at KingSize Sound Labs in Chicago during a brief lull in the Covid-19 pandemic. The second session took place in January 2021 at Sammy Hinrichsen’s place in Peoria, IL. In addition to playing in the backing band, John Merikoski also served as producer for the entirety of the record with Matthew Pittman engineering/co-producing the Chicago sessions and Sammy Hinrichsen handling the engineering and co-production duties in Peoria. Sammy also mixed the album and Phillip Shaw Boya mastered it. The end result is an album that sounds so crisp and alive that the tiny hairs on your arm tingle the moment you hit play.
You see, loss—both the kind of grief and the kind of failure—leaves its mark on you. Some may try to hide those scars. Todd brandishes them proudly. Whether it’s addressing personal anxieties and fear of mortality on tunes such as “It’s In the End (Thumbprints)” and “Beautiful & Strange” or facing the brutal honesty of parenting, see “The Single Fatherhood Feels of Corey Dean,” or owning up to the complicated truth of relationships (“Realistic Love Song”), Todd dives headfirst into the realities of living, the good, the bad, the hard-fought lessons of a life truly fucking lived.
Like the artists that came before him, Todd’s self-titled album is a true declaration of intent and purpose. Throughout its 10 songs, it’s obvious that Todd doesn’t hold back on anything here. If you’d seen the peaks and valleys he had, you wouldn’t either.
Jeremy Todd released the first single from his upcoming debut self-titled record, “Realistic Love Song”, February 14th, 2022 on all streaming platforms along side his debut music video on YouTube (featuring his bride to be Elizabeth Nicole Newman). With the album set to release May 27th, 2022 and over 40,000 streams collectively, Jeremy Todd has since opened for Pokey LaFarge at The Castle Theater in Bloomington, IL. The Way Down Wanderers and is set to hit damn near every music festival IL. has to offer this year!