Having taken a 23 year break from releasing new music, the former leader of The Rave-Ups, Jimmer Podrasky, proves that time can indeed stand still with “The Would-Be Plans.” Those unfamiliar with Jimmer or with The Rave-Ups can be forgiven as the band had a promising start, often put in the same company as The Cure and R.E.M, but due to the usual internal/external conflicts of success, flamed out within a few short years. By 1990 Jimmer was essentially retired, possibly spending the next 23 years ruminating on the tracks of “The Would-Be Plans.”
Jimmer is both song-writer and singer on this album of memory and longing. Tracks such as the title tune, “The Would-Be Plans,” hint at the struggle of the last two decades. The tracks are so rich with visuals they seem plucked from some as yet unproduced movie. “Molotov Moon” evokes the image of a long slow dance in a dusty honkytonk between two souls illuminated only by the grainy light of a dying neon sign. One might wonder whether T-Bone Burnett and his score from “Crazy Heart” might have been influenced (consciously or unconsciously) by Jimmer. A comparison can even be drawn between Bruce Springsteen’s “The Wrestler,” and the “The Would-Be Plans.” This comparison is helped along by the fact that Jimmer himself bears more than a passing resemblance to Mickey Rourke.
The alt-country genre didn’t exist when The Rave-Ups were at their apex and perhaps it took over 20 years of searching to find a home for Jimmer’s unique style. It’s not surprising that it’s a solo work- Jimmer is backed by a band of borrowed artists. There’s a feeling of loneliness that pervades the album, never as obvious as on the track “Satellite.” That’s the thing about alt-country- it’s home to many a loner. Misfits, if you will. It’s not Nashville country. It’s not pretty. It’s not over produced. It’s raw and at times painful. Each listen will offer something different to the listener.
As with many albums in this genre, “The Would-Be Plans” offers tracks that carry an almost jolly melody with lyrics that have a darker meaning. That juxtaposition encourages multiple listens and leaves an audience with a sense of discovery, such as on “Big Ball of String.” The use of a harmonica on many tracks adds a Bob Dylan-like quality but it is always Jimmer’s own vocals and thoughtful lyrics that carry each track above any hard comparison to any other artist. Only one track doesn’t neatly “fit” on the album, “Fall,” although it can’t be said that it detracts from the overall quality. “Fall” takes the listener back to the mid-80s and The Cure” which is fair considering the artist’s history. He is one of a kind and the album is definitely worth a 20 year wait. But please don’t call it a comeback. Call it a meditation.