Chris Price songwriter profile - Photo by Kyle Safieh

Songwriter Profile: Chris Price

While it might have taken Chris Price half a decade to release his second solo album, Stop Talking, having songs was never an issue. “I had 44 tunes recorded,” Price says. “I had the idea of doing a double album. I always think in terms of vinyl: side A and side B. I was going to make the first side upbeat, and the second side acoustic and low-key. At the last minute I decided to integrate it all. It was a long process to get from 44 songs to 25 and then to the 14 on the record.”

As a producer, Chris Price worked on two recent projects close to his heart, The Soul of All Natural Things from Linda Perhacs, and Rainbow’s End, which marked the return of Emitt Rhodes. Price says that the latter artist provided a much-needed sounding board. “He would give me comments and criticism, and sometimes it was really harsh, but it’s what most people need to hear. I have always been a melody guy, I love producing music and realizing a track to completion. But with lyrics I was always insecure. I feel I’ve turned that corner.”

Among the standout tracks on Stop Talking is “Pulling Teeth,” where eerie live strings subvert a gorgeously evocative melody. Chris Price worked with Nadeem Majdalany on the arrangement. “We had conversations based around a composer named Krzysztof Eugeniusz Penderecki who does a lot of interesting avant-garde classical music. If you look at charts for his orchestral compositions, they are not written the way most people see charts ––there are lighting bolts, and spirals and waves. Strange stuff. My inspiration was Scott Walker. I love his ‘It’s Raining Today,’ which is one of those tunes with an unsettling undercurrent. So this song is the unholy love child of that and ‘Candy Says’ by the Velvet Underground.”

A mind-bending psychedelic palette colors the obliquely titled “Algebra in the Sky,” a song Price said was invented while playing a songwriting game. “We regularly go to a friend’s house with maybe six songwriters, and others who aren’t writing. The ones who are not writing come up with a bunch of titles, write them on pieces of paper, and put them in a hat. We draw them out and get 30 minutes to write the song. Sometimes there is an odd number of writers, so they get solo rounds. ‘Algebra in the Sky’ was a title that I drew in my solo round. My brother Cory, who is playing bass on the recording, suggested that I do it upbeat, and this is what makes the song.”

Price’s conversational vocal tone is amped up on “Hi Lo,” with a Latin overtone in the vocal intensity. “I grew up around Latin music,” says Price, whose father is noted songwriter and producer Rudy Perez. “We had a studio in the house. Later on I grew an affinity for Brazilian music and became obsessed with Antonio Carlos Jobim, JoЛo Gilberto and the psychedelic sounds of Caetano Veloso’s early records. There’s a heavy Latin influence on what I do. Sometimes it’s accidental.”

The concluding song on Stop Talking is titled “Anhedonia.” The term refers to the inability to experience pleasure from things that are generally pleasurable. Price says that this word was the original title for one of his favorite movies, Woody Allen’s classic Annie Hall. It has a personal significance for him too. “Sometimes in my life it’s hard for me to get too excited or sad about a thing that I should have more emotion about. When I was younger I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was picked on in school and I had anxiety and self-esteem issues. I’ve had career setbacks and heartbreak, and this has given me an emotional shield. I hesitate to psychoanalyze myself, but when I read the description of that word there was something I had a kinship with in my life.”

With this latest release Chris Price intends to expand his touring base and take his music across the country and abroad. “I am always hoping for the best,” he concludes. “Let’s build it and spread it word-of-mouth.”

Photo by Kyle Safieh

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