Photo Ops is the folk-tinged, dream pop recording project of Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter Terry Price. Price began Photo Ops as a way to find meaning within an onslaught of traumatic and life altering events — a sudden and series medical condition, the death of his father and the breakup of his longtime band Oblio. Naturally, all of those things wound up inspiring his Photo Ops debut, 2013’s How to Say Goodbye. 2016’s Patrick Damphier-produced Vacation was released to critical praise. Several songs off the album were licensed for film and TV, including the trailer for the motion picture People, Places, Things, several episodes of ABC’s Blood & Oil and CW’s Valor — and as a result, the album and its songs amassed several million streams on Spotify. He eventually signed a publishing deal with Secretly Canadian.
Like countless people, Price was shaken and dazed by the 2016 election. He stopped touring for his sophomore effort, went dark on social media and left Nashville, where he lived for 15 years and relocated to Los Angeles. I needed to shed my skin,” Price says in press notes. In fact, the change of scenery became a sudden need both creatively and spiritually for the acclaimed singer/songwriter. “I needed to look outside myself for inspiration,” Price explains. “It’s a matter of survival to know that there is beauty in the world. So that’s my mission now: to show that there still is beauty in the world. I honestly don’t know how else to write right now.”
Slated for release later this year, Price’s third Photo Ops effort, Pure at Heart was partially inspired by Price’s time listening and studying Bob Dylan‘s Sirius XM show, Bob Dylans’s Theme Time Radio Hour while driving through the Southwest. “They were mostly old songs. What struck me was the spirit that was behind them. They’re just people in a room with a microphone, so they would have to self-correct and really conjure a spirit in the moment. Something about that felt so vital to me. It sounds like a time and place,” Price says. And as a result, the forthcoming album, which continues Price’s ongoing collaboration with Patrick Damphier is based around a production that emphasizes a sense of immediacy that’s a sort of Jack Kerouac-like first thought, best thought fashion. Along with that, the arrangements throughout the album’s material are also based around that same sense of arrangement with Price using an intentionally limited set of instruments: one acoustic guitar, one electric guitar, a vintage, 60s Ludwig drum kit, a stand-up piano, a Hofner bass and a small Casiotone keyboard. And although for this album Price is working remotely with the Nashville-based Damphier, the album’s songs were recorded as soon as they were written.
Reportedly one of the biggest and perhaps most noticeable changes throughout the album’s material is in Price’s voice with the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter at points throughout the album singing in a relaxed, easy-going upper register. “It’s partly an accident of location,” Price explains. “In Nashville, I had a garage. I could go out and make as much noice as I wanted. In L.A., you have to be more thoughtful about your neighbors.” Unsurprisingly, the need to sing quietly opened up the opportunity to experiment with space and restraint. But let’s move on a bit, eh?
Pure at Heart’s latest single is the buoyant “July.” Nodding a bit at Full Moon Fever-era Tom Petty and 70s AM rock, the song is centered around an arrangement of bouncing and propulsive bass, shimmering guitar, a breezy and infectious hook and Price’s plaintive and ethereal vocals. Throughout the song, its narrator sighs with a mix of clinical and ironic detachment and compassion over the end of a relationship. But interestingly enough, the song’s viewpoint doesn’t come from moving on and forward with someone else; it’s actually from the astute recognition that all things end at some point or another, no matter what you do.