Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Terry Price, who creates achingly beautiful folk-tinged dream pop under the moniker Photo Ops, has unveiled “July,” his first new music since the 2016 release of his sophomore album Vacation. “July” is a sneak peek at what’s to come as Price crafts his third album, which will be released later this year. The song, which explores the idea of healthy relationship boundaries, channels Tom Petty, with a lyric that makes peace with being misunderstood. Price sings with a mix of detachment and compassion, “I did you right. / You just won’t know it for a while.”
Like many people, Price found himself shaken by the events of November 2016. He ceased touring on Vacation, went dark on social media, and left Nashville, where he’d lived for 15 years, for Los Angeles. “I needed to shed my skin,” he says. The change of scenery answers what became a sudden need for Price: “I needed to look outside myself for inspiration. 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 is still beauty in the world. I honestly don’t know how else to write right now.”
The new Photo Ops material features an intentionally limited set of instruments: one acoustic guitar, one electric guitar, a Ludwig drum kit from the 60s, a stand-up piano, a Hofner bass, and a small Casiotone keyboard. Price has teamed up again with Nashville producer Patrick Damphier (Jessica Lea Mayfield, Mynabirds, Fences, Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Arcs); working remotely, the songs are recorded as soon as they’re written. One of the biggest changes in these new songs is in Price’s voice; there’s a clarity to his 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, the former Music City resident 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.
Photo Ops kicked off a tour last night in Seattle with Merge Records duo Tracyanne & Danny, see below for a list of upcoming dates.