A hazy, startlingly clear outpouring of beautiful and stunning sound, Photo Ops’ third album ‘Pure At Heart’ evokes picturesque scenes as its author spills himself out through an adventure of the body and soul alike.
‘Stream: ‘Pure at Heart’ – Photo Ops
Photo Ops’ new album is a terrific, stunningly immersive journey.
It’s an adventure for the body and the soul alike – a trip into the self, as it glides down the Pacific Coast Highway at dusk under pink, blue, and tangerine skies. A hazy, startlingly clear outpouring of beautiful sound, Pure At Heart evokes picturesque scenes as its author spills himself out in gorgeous, tantalizing song.
driving at night through el paso
out of the dark come the city lights
storm coming over the mountains
everything I know is behind
nobody knows, nobody shows
with what the future holds
take the long way
take the way you go
i will wait
take the longest way you know
– “Take the Long Way,” Photo Ops
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Photo Ops’ Pure At Heart, out September 18 via Western Vinyl. The musical project of Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Terry Price, Photo Ops has been actively releasing a blend of dreamy pop and folk for seven years now; his debut album How to Say Goodbye was released in 2013, and his sophomore offering Vacation followed in 2016.
Four years later, Pure At Heart finds Price at his peak of musical ingenuity and emotional movement. Photo Ops’ new album is a serene expanse; a technicolor coat of lush sounds exploring self-doubt and perseverance, isolation and connection, inertia and progress. “Pure At Heart has me lyrically with one foot in the confessional and one foot in the impressionistic,” the artist tells Atwood Magazine. “Listening to a lot of old folk, gospel, country, combined with the great melodians of Los Angeles (Brian Wilson, Lindsay Buckingham, Rivers Cuomo, Tom Petty, Jason Martin) I tried to synthesize proof of the natural beauty I saw upon my arrival here, while expressing the loneliness one can feel when you move somewhere new.”
Opening with the Americana caress of “Take the Long Way,” Photo Ops reintroduces himself to listeners with a sober reflection on travel and arrival, feeling an alien to one’s surroundings, and all that it means for a place to be and not be “home.” Terry describes much of his work as “lullabies to embrace uncertainty,” and this album introduction is no exception; a hearty groove with a tinge of darkness and a sprinkling of southern comfort, “Take the Long Way” sets the scene on a long traveler searching for answers, fully well knowing they won’t come easy (if at all).
The record continues to dazzle as the artist captures intimate moments spent in solitude’s solace. Singles “Walking Under the Trees” and “Play On” present the songwriter’s introspective mind coming to bear in two very different, equally compelling sonics: There is the softer balladry with guitar patterns that hypnotize and intoxicate, and the quicker, more upbeat and energizing songs that seem to lift listeners’ souls as the very groove itself seems to soar.
have I, have I stayed too late?
have I have I missed the changing day?
when loud voices echo
they drown out the quiet instead
there aren’t many places to go
but don’t you be quiet
i thought, thought there was something to gain
detail, some detail I had misplaced
– “Don’t You Be Quiet,” Photo Ops
Much of Photo Ops’ music is best left up to interpretation, yet what’s indisputable about all of these songs is the artist’s ability to create a world of sound, color, texture, and feeling. Pure At Heart – a record inexorably connected to individual experience, submerged in sentiment, hope, and longing – is a gift to all those who wander; who will forever live with a wondering mind; who enjoy the taste of the unknown and excitement of self-discovery.
We could sit and praise songs like “Palm Trees” and “July” for capturing the sun-soaked seduction of summer and the unrelenting beauty of the West Coast, and indeed they are great exemplar’s of Photo Ops’ artistry – but they are best experienced not as standalone minutiae, but as pieces of Pure At Heart‘s whole. A kiss of summer sun perfect for our late summer slumber, Pure At Heart is sure to leave listeners soothed and refreshed – their hearts warm and their souls stirred.
Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Photo Ops’ Pure At Heart EP with Atwood Magazine as Terry Price goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his third full-length album! Pure At Heart is out September 18 via Western Vinyl.
‘Stream: ‘Pure At Heart’ – Photo Ops
:: Inside Pure At Heart ::
Take The Long Way
I was sitting in my apartment and Leonard Coen had just died. Having just moved to LA, I was thinking about the change in landscape you witness as you drive east to west. Between the strangeness of moving and the political shifts that have taken place over the last few years, I wanted to capture the feeling of driving into the unknown future and being mystified by it. Like a lot of my songs, they are kind of lullabies to embrace uncertainty. Take the long way. I’ll wait.
Walking Under The Trees
Being isolated in Santa Monica, I took a lot of walks. This song is about taking comfort in solitude. Friends come in and out of life. Gravity and decay. What goes up, must come down. Relationships decay without nourishment. It’s not hard to look around and see the effects of decay, inertia. Appreciating the love and support that I still had to be grateful for. With a lot of these songs, I wanted to capture how beautiful the geography and plant & tree life is out west.
Trying to keep your heart intact after a fascist is elected. Being in a new city. New networks of people to engage with. Embracing uncertainty. Expressing confusion cathartically. To sing, to play on. There is still beauty and optimism to be found and shared in the world. This is on the power pop side of my vision for the record. I wanted to somehow combine a major key power pop with natural sparse arrangements. Equal parts catchy and pastoral.
Don’t You Be Quiet
There’s something dreamy and bittersweet about the melodic cadences of ’50s music. I love throwing myself into some of those melodic traditions. And this verse sounds to me like an early Elvis might have picked as a ballad. Lyrically, the verses are overwhelming inner life thoughts. Self doubt. It’s easier to be quiet. Especially in this environment where the loudest voices are the only that are heard. In spite of all that, the chorus is a lullaby to encourage speaking. Loud voices drown out the quiet. Speak anyway.
An ode to the sweet spot of being outside as the sun goes down and the stars come out. I found it interesting to play with religious symbols. Having grown up southern baptist, these words are charged for me, so I figure they’re charged for others as well. Heaven and the devil, but also day, night, old, and young. The feeling as these change from one to the other as you listen to the song. Day to twilight to night and stars. The release that change brings. I can remember to show love outwardly. To leave my inner life for a bit, and appreciate what’s outside of me.
Pictures of You and Me
Christmas felt like a respite from chaos growing up. A chance to be together and appreciate beauty in the world. My mother still takes a lot of pride in decorating the house. The song is just a quick look at the reprieve it seemed to bring her. Often we would sit around and listen to Christmas music with just the Christmas lights on. Musically I started it on a ukulele, and it became kind of hypnotic.
Loneliness in paradise. The facade wealthy people are capable of constructing in and around beautiful locales is very impressive. It can highlight how little one has accomplished in contrast. When you move to a new city and you miss your friends, this gulf seems particularly wide. Musically, i’ve been interested in trying to combine, well not power pop exactly, but definitely a sweet kind of mccartneyesque, hummable kind of stream lined melodic approach with a more pastoral, natural aesthetic arrangement wise.
Sometimes you stumble onto a great evening after not having any for too long. I went to a Cass McCombs show and took mushrooms and wrote this song about it. Spring can be a strange time, but also a time of renewal and possibility. It’s a double edged sword.
July is about the limits of what you can offer someone, and when that bumps up against the limits of what you yourself need to thrive–healthy boundaries and a healthy amount of Jeff Lynne-style acoustic guitars.
And Away We Go
I had the intro / outro guitar part for a few years and loved the idea of having the rest of the song just repeat the same four chords for the verse and chorus. I wanted flugel style horn to harmonize on the post chorus melody. Sometimes spacious and wide open about how the song feels to me. One of the only songs I’ve ever co written lyrically. The lyrics are an experiment. While we recorded, there were wildfires in LA. So the lyrics are from someone’s perspective who is trying to flee.
Live with Yourself
Oftentimes, the weakness we see in others is just a reflection of our own. We’re disgusted by it. Ultimately, it’s yourself that you have to live with. I spent a whole spring only listening to Paul McCartney solo records. With most of this record, I’ve been trying to capture a strange and beautiful energy you feel when being in nature with a clear buoyant melodic focus. Making sure to keep the lyrical focus on emotional sincerity. Sparse production that reflects the geography and compact song structures to make the listener hopefully hit repeat.
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📸 © Bliss Katherine
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