“It’s hard to recover from a bad year,” sings Terry Price in the opening track of my favorite release of 2013, Photo Ops’How To Say Goodbye. “Friends that were with us are no longer near / But hey, I’m glad to be alive.”
As Price’s first release under the alias of Photo Ops, the shimmering guitar pop found within How To Say Goodbye is a deeply personal ode to death, loss, growing up and moving on.
Saying that Price had a bad year isn’t an overstatement. Between the loss of his father, to Price’s own struggles with Bell’s Palsy–an illness which temporarily paralyzed one side of his face–How To Say Goodbye is a personal narrative of Price’s recent struggles.
Remarkably, Price managed to draw from these experiences to create one of 2013’s finest records, and from start to finish, How To Say Goodbye keeps the emotional intensity high. While the dreamy production gives the songs an airy aesthetic, it’s Price’s razor-sharp songwriting and knack for melody that separates Photo Ops from the host of other stodgy bands hiding lackluster songs under layers of reverb.
Acoustic-centered numbers “Wanna Feel Good” and “Someplace” are definite stand-outs, as is the jangly “You Said You Were.” Even though it may be your first time hearing these songs, there’s still a sense of familiarity––the melodies and lyrics within How To Say Goodbye are so well placed that it’s like you’ve known them all along.
The record reaches an emotional peak with the acoustic-driven “February Ocean Breeze.” Having just lost his father who had suffered from schizophrenia, Price and his wife make a trip to the beach as a way to reflect and say farewell. Price achingly recalls, “Evolution was unkind to our family, to your mind, and to me / But not to this day’s memory / Somehow it feels right on a beautiful day to say goodbye to a beautiful life.”
How To Say Goodbye displays the human ability to survive and create something miraculous out of the opposite.
Below, check out Photo Ops’ video for “It Makes Me Cry,” which includes shots of Price on guitar, bass, keyboard and drums––all instruments he played on the majority of How To Say Goodbye.
Listen to the aforementioned “February Ocean Breeze” here:
Photo Ops is currently working on a follow up record to How To Say Goodbye. Learn more here.
Tom Gilbert is a guitarist (and aspiring pedal steel player) living in the San Francisco Bay Area. When he’s not blogging for Acoustic Nation, eating Thai food or being obsessed with his dog, Tom does marketing and PR for music and audio companies with Mad Sun Marketing.