Joe Ely / BIO
“His name is Joe Ely. He comes from Lubbock, Texas. His boots are old and beaten. They’d look mighty lonesome without him standing in them.”
These are the opening lines of a long bio that Joe Ely’s first record label MCA used to introduce Ely to the world in 1977 on the eve of his debut album. Those ‘old and beaten boots’ have since built a stable of work of better than 20 albums - a diverse catalogue of songs which has consistently earned critical praise, has never been afraid to explore and prides itself on blurring the lines of musical genre.
One thing is very clear, and every fan and follower will tell you the same, those ‘boots’ have fronted some of the best and most talented bands to ever hit the concert stage night after night.
They have also toured with or shared the stage with Merle Haggard, The Kinks, Chuck Berry, Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, Roy Brown, Linda Ronstadt, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band and more.
Yet the ‘boots’ have never chased fame, and one of the most loyal fan bases in music is just fine with that.
After countless soles, Joe Ely and his boots are back.
Fresh off his 40th Anniversary celebration concert of the recording of his first live album, “Live Shots,” Ely was just settling in to get to work on his next batch of projects and gigs, when the coronavirus pandemic (or “pandamnit” as Ely calls it) took grip.
After seeing the worldwide scope of the pandemic, initial frustration about canceled projects and gigs quickly turned into a question of, “What can I do to help?”
Knowing they would be confined to their home for an undetermined amount of time, Joe and his wife, Sharon, jumped on the opportunity to review music, files, and notes of his work thru the years of songs that had not yet found a home.
“I went digging in places I hadn’t visited in a long time,” says Ely.
What they found was a treasure trove of love songs, several of which speak of compassion for your fellow person.
The new album, Love in the Midst of Mayhem, is a collection of ten of these songs.
“The album popped up quickly, but, at the same time, it was a long time coming”, says Ely. “When putting together an album, I typically try to go with a story. This time I went with feeling. I see people out of work, out of food, and I see medical workers and others on the front lines putting their lives in danger everyday. I also see the beauty of the human spirit at work too. The time was right.”
Whether you are slow waltzing with your loved one after dinner to “You Can Rely on Me,” or moved by the simplistic brilliance of “A Man and His Dog,” this album is sure to make you look inside.
“I hope we all kind of see where we are today, and realize that we need to come together to pull out of this,” Ely says. “We need to turn fear into a positive thing to put the world back together. I hope people will listen with open eyes and an open ear.”
Yes, Joe Ely and his boots are back – just in time, too.
— Ed Gray
What's Being Said About Love In The Midst Of Mayhem
“Leave it to Joe Ely to deliver the first set of songs meant directly for this health pandemic. There is an intimacy to these songs that inevitability conveys warmth and though sparse at times in terms of accompaniment, the musicians always stay sensitive and the production values come through brilliantly. Thanks to Joe Ely for keeping us grounded and reminding us of what’s important.”
— Jim Hynes / Glide Magazine
“It’s put together straight from the emergency we have right now. Every song is about love, for love, to love and with love… love when we need it most. Love in the Midst of Mayhem is not just a joy to listen to, it's a necessity.”
— Terry Allen / Artist
“That a record made largely of misfits from past projects would be strong enough to make ‘Love in the Midst of Mayhem’ one of Ely’s best records speaks to the high standards he’s had throughout his career. But it is that good!”
— Peter Blackstock / Austin360 (Austin American Statesman)
“Is it possible after 50 years to make the very best album of a long and illustrious career? If you’re Joe Ely it absolutely is. Listening to Love in the Midst of Mayhem is to hear why music will always be our guiding light, and Joe Ely is the man beaming that light the brightest. Let it shine.”
— Bill Bentley / Bentley’s Bandstand / Americana Highways
“There are a lot of wonderful songs on Love in the Midst of Mayhem. especially love ‘You Can Rely On Me’ - so sweet a song. As always we can rely on Joe and in this time of Pandemic appreciate his music even more.”
— Jo Harvey Allen / Actress, writer
“(Ely) remains a reassuring presence whose easy blend of weary stoicism and gentle empathy suggests everything will eventually turn out more or less ok, which doesn’t sound like bad news at all.”
—Jon M. Young / The Big Takeover
“While this may sound counterintuitive to say about a largely acoustic album, say it I will — the next time the specter of our current conditions gets you down, I beseech you to play this album loud, because I can practically guarantee it will make you feel better. It’s that good. Bless you, Joe Ely.”
—John Michael Antonio / Americana Highways
“You can always count on Joe Ely to get the job done. And done beautifully. (These cuts) are consistent and coherent as if they were penned last month. And of course, there're all delivered in Ely’s soulfully sandy croon and defined by the earthy sincerity, straightforwardness and elegance that have always been part of his sonic and stylistic signature.”
— Darryl Sterdan / Tinnitist