Miles from Anywhere
'For me, songwriting only works when you're able to convey some emotional truth,' says singer-songwriter Rich Price. 'When you can do that, you're going to connect with someone, and that's my measure of success.' Price's forthcoming release, Miles From Anywhere is an indelible mixture of melodic, highly literate rock and spacious, mid-tempo folk-pop. Not only is Miles From Anywhere one of the year's most memorable debuts, it's the culmination of a lifelong journey that has taken Price from Nigeria to Oxford University to New York City. Born in Nigeria to an English mother and an American father stationed there on business, Price lived in the Ivory Coast, Taiwan, Hong Kong and London before his family settled in the San Francisco Bay area. For Price, music was an early antidote to a complicated life. 'Ever since I was a toddler, I would pound on the piano and sit for hours making up songs,' he remembers. 'I got my first guitar at fourteen, and started writing songs when I was in high school, but I never thought I would make a life out of this.' Price wrote songs and played in various bands while attending college in Middlebury, Vermont before attending graduate school at Oxford University. 'I thought I would become a high school history teacher,' he recalls. After returning from England, Price sent his demos to his old roommate, Pete Francis of the New England band Dispatch. Francis urged Price to make a record of his own, and Price soon found his teaching plans derailed. 'We went into this Rhode Island studio with a thought that we would make a three-song demo,' Price says now. 'We wound up recording eleven songs that day. Instead of having a demo, I had a record. Then I thought, 'Well, maybe I'll just tour a little and see what happens. And when I did, I felt like I was connecting with people.' It's easy to see why: Informed by childhood heroes like Paul Simon, Van Morrison and Tom Petty, but with a sensibility that's thoroughly modern, Price's tales of romantic melancholy, of love lost and hope found, are at once universal and completely his own. The would-be demo tracks Price recorded that day in Rhode Island wound up forming the heart of Night Opens, the ten-song indie debut he released in 2001 produced by Francis and Dispatch producer John Paul Gauthier. Price took to the road to promote the album, putting 40,000 miles on his van in five months. 'It's not an easy path, to play for 25 people in Buffalo for 50 dollars,' he says. 'But I still pinch myself that this is what I do for a living. Even the hard work is fun.' Price even did a brief tour of duty busking in New York City subway stations. 'When I wanted to work out a song, it was more effective than annoying my neighbors,' he remembers. Price wouldn't have to busk for very long: during the winter of 2004, he entered the recording studio to begin work on Miles From Anywhere with producer Andy Zulla and Gauthier. 'I think that 'Miles From Anywhere' is more diverse than anything I've done, both musically and thematically,' Price says. 'My first record was about a bad breakup, and the songs feel rooted in one place. I'm glad I did, because doing that record, and performing those songs live, was immensely therapeutic. But this album is about so many different things. In the past few years, I've definitely learned to trust my instincts more.' Miles From Anywhere will undoubtedly prompt comparisons to modern-day masters like David Gray, but Price cautions against making too much of the connection. 'I understand people drawing that comparison, because we're both lyric-driven, male singer-songwriters,' he says. 'It's flattering, but misleading.' The album's first single, 'I'm On My Way,' is both a meditation on a dying romance and a statement of purpose. 'It's about an ultimatum: 'You don't have to go with me, but I'm going.' ' The album's title is taken from a lyric in the searing ballad 'Empty Glass' (re-worked here from it's appearance on Price's indie debut). 'It describes what my life is like now. I'm in constant motion. And it suggests an emotional journey, too, which I think each of us is on.' Miles From Anywhere is more catchy, more muscular, than anyone raised on the strummy, delicate male singer-songwriters of the past generation might reasonably expect (channeling the likes of Springsteen and Petty). Tracks like 'Queen B' and 'Fly Me Home' are driving, melody-intensive rock tracks that sound both spacious and intimate, confessional and universal. It's a deceptively difficult combination to master, but it's precisely what Price has accomplished with this impressive second effort.