As Photo Ops, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Terry Price creates dream pop with a tinge of folk. Since his 2013 debut, How to Say Goodbye, his compact, richly textured songs have garnered over a million plays on Spotify with their eminently hummable melodies, deeply personal lyrics, and earnest, resonant vocals. His sophomore effort, Vacation, came in 2016 and solidified Photo Ops’ reputation for combining beautifully melodic production with raw emotionality.
After relocating from Nashville (where some referenced him as one of the best pop songwriters in town) to Los Angeles, new songs began to emerge that are among the best of his career. In these new tracks, Price captures the feeling of leaving the old behind and embracing the unknown that’s ahead, and he reflects back an impressionistic take on the space and mystery of traveling through the American West. While he continues to evolve and synthesize his own brand of pop sensibility and hymn-like lullaby, here he introduces a stripped-down, natural aesthetic that relishes limited instrumentation.
Another big change in these songs lies in Price’s voice. There is a clarity to the upper register, as he relaxes into high notes in a way that calls to mind the Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson. It’s partly an accident of location, Price says. “In Nashville, I had a garage. I could go out and make as much noise as I wanted. In LA, you have to be thoughtful about your neighbors.” The need to sing quietly has opened up a whole new vocal palette for Price, allowing him to experiment with space and restraint.
Taking these songs into the studio, Price once again paired up with his longtime producer Patrick Damphier. Together, they found a new approach to arranging and recording to align with Price's new approach to songwriting and performing; there is a new immediacy to the production, inspired in part by studies of Bob Dylan's Sirius show Theme Time Radio Hour and its hundred-plus hours of deep-cut Americana that brim with natural energy and raw human moments.
The album Pure at Heart was inspired in part by Price’s time listening to and studying Bob Dylan‘s Sirius XM show, Theme Time Radio Hour while driving through the Southwest. As he explains “I was learning that what made a lot of older music magical, was the performers having to work with limitations. So you had to rely on human performance and the energy you could conjure in real time, in the moment, to communicate your idea.” For the recording, he and a friend turned the living room of his 575 square foot apartment into a studio. “We mostly stuck with the instruments and gear I had on hand and tried to make it sound just as inspired as when we had more of a traditional studio at our disposal. Forcing us to rely less on bells and whistles, more on the strength of the musical ideas and performance. We nailed packing blankets to the walls and ceilings of my living room and created a studio in my apartment. Having to stop every hour to turn the air conditioning on.”