With the Eye of a Skeptic & a Few Other Likely Stories
13 songs • 2009
“Beyond any criticism, it is crystal clear that this is a fantastic album.”
Joachim “Joe” Brookes
“Magical and marvelous stories which become magnificent songs.”
“The album is a superbly literate set of 13 songs.”
UK online magazine
With the Eye of a Skeptic & a Few Other Likely Stories
13 songs • 67 minutes • Released 11.09
All songs written by Bill Price ©2009 Mr. Quill Music (BMI)
Hear Me Out
Blue Period Blues
In a Flying Dream
Foot in the Dirt
Sticks & Stones
About the Album
With the Eye of a Skeptic… is very acoustic in nature with an emphasis on a more narrative approach to songwriting. Although acoustic, the album features a full band on each of the original thirteen songs.
1. Hear Me Out
3. Blue Period Blues
4. In a Flying Dream
5. Election Day
6. Foot in the Dirt
7. Waterfall #2
9. Henry’s War
10. Sticks & Stones
11. Red Cloud
12. Skeptic’s Lullaby
13. Last Word
Produced by Michael Graham and Bill Price
Recorded mixed and mastered at The Lodge by Michael Graham
Garry Bole: Accordion, Melodica
Stasia Demos: Harmony Vocals
Paul Holdman: Acoustic Lead Guitar, Bazouki, Cittern
Grover Parido: Cello
Bill Price: Acoustic Rhythm Guitar, Vocals, Bazouki, Harmonium
Jamey Reid: Drums, Percussion
Jeff Stone: Electric and Upright Bass
By Abbey K. Davis, MuzikReviews.com 06.15.10
5 out of 5 stars
You might be skeptical about Bill Price before you hear his music, but With the Eye of a Skeptic & a Few Other Likely Stories will leave you sure about his talent, not only with music but with songwriting, timing, and vocals.
It’s easy to compare a folk album to a Bob Dylan one, but even though Price at times sounds a little like the folk legend, he deserves better than a simple comparison. His songs tell stories in a smart, witty, wordy way – like Jason Mraz without the fluff. Price surely is the master of wordplay.
While the music on With the Eye of a Skeptic is great, (it’s classic folk filler with a healthy twang), the lyrics are the main point, and the album’s real treasure. On “Skeptic’s Lullaby,” Price sings, “People’s lives they are unraveling – relationships bizarre/now men they drink their madness and curse their jezebel/while the women bathe in sadness – tell themselves it’s just as well”. The entire album is full of such lyrics, without an obvious rhyme or pointless word thrown in to fluff anything up.
References to history, popular culture, and other artists are everywhere. Even songs without obvious references are smart and modern. On “Blue Period Blues,” Price gets funky and sings with style, “She inspired every stroke but bohemians go broke/so he painted in the dark/but he painted from the heart/but all she would ever say is, ‘Do you call that art?'”
With the Eye of a Skeptic is definitely art. Its modern folk with a twang and a groove that will leave you feeling like you got your time and money’s worth.
Key Tracks: “Blue Period Blues,” “Election Day,” “Last Word“
Moors Magazine, Dutch Magazine 02.10
With the Eye of a Skeptic is the title of a extraordinarily strong album by Bill Price.
Price is not only skeptical; he is also intelligent, and he can tell magical and marvelous stories which become magnificent songs accompanied by an assembled band which also hits the nail on the head in the many details. Beautiful. Beautiful! The music reminds one of the Grateful Dead in its best moments, also of Little Feat and of the Jayhawks, essentially played in an especially acoustic manner. Relaxed, yet played with precision. There is also the brilliant voice of Stasia Demos singing back-up. In short: a jewel of an album composed of natural diamonds. The listener can hear two tracks from the album, and hear how beautifully each track fits into another. On hearing then the second time, the listener hears details that completely escaped him the first time. I absolutely recommend this album.
By Joachim “Joe” Brookes, www.rocktimes, German Magazine 02.10
Decisions matter, whether in the microcosm of private life or in the larger web of states and their policy-makers. Later people sometimes regret decisions more or less; other decisions hold true. It doesn’t matter whether they are made on the small stage of the family or by well-known statesmen or women at important meetings captured in group photographs; decisions have meaning.
Bill Price, in many aspects has made the absolutely correct decisions. Price, who also plays with The Brains Behind Pa, decided to present his thirteen new compositions with a band rather than as a single, guitar-playing troubadour. He chose the exactly right mode. In the group we find musicians who were part of earlier Price-CDs. We hear from accordion player Garry Bole and bass man Jeff Stone again, also players in The Brains Behind Pa.
Steady drops wear away stone. Even in the review of Bones and Apples, I questioned the level of recognition of the artist. Perhaps more fans have come along. However that goes, the composer has successfully achieved an album filled with exquisite music of the best quality. The CD with the awfully long title, With the Eye of a Skeptic & a Few Other Likely Stories, is an undiluted acoustic album, even with the few tracks with Stone on the electric bass. Therefore, almost an acoustic album.
Beyond any criticism, it is crystal clear that this is a fantastic album. Numbers infused with Country, Folk, and Blues over the drum beat undertake a moving trip throughout the body of the listener. The music travels like the circulation of blood because it doesn’t take much time until it reaches the heart.
Around such handcrafted music is much emotion. In this album we find not only desire, melancholy, and sadness in minor key, but also all types of themes from this insightfully observant songwriter in his compositions. In the booklet which accompanies the disc, all of the lyrics are printed along with notes, in the truest sense of the word, from the composer for each track.
In the opener, “Hear Me Out,” a great number with a delightful country beat and rocking riffs on acoustic guitar, Price presents an integrated impression. Right at the start Price performs with a female singer. Stasis Demos, who sings as well as a woman can sing, gives Price real competition. It is great that Demos did not hold back or become a back-up singer. In each song the other named musicians play a key role, whether it is the super groovy twelve-bar blues, “Blue Period Blues,” or the delightful rock and roll, “Fixer-Upper,” the numbers have an “upsetting” appeal. I mean that in the most positive way. “Red Cloud,” a song about an Indian of the same name living from 1822 to 1909, shows self-doubt on the part of the composer. This does not in any way detract from the music; rather, the melancholy comes through as a quiet breath. This track is a CD highlight.
Bill Price offers the very best in singer/songwriter music, and it is certain that this long-playing album with the long title will win Price new fans. He has certainly earned it.
By Ron, www.rootstime.be 02.10
We know him from The Brains Behind Pa, a kind of Dylan tribute band that captivated us with the magnificent and beautiful Old Hat and later Better for the Deal. Previous to that, Bill Price had released his first solo album Bones & Apples. In 2007, with the The Circus & The Gallows EP, he unleashed upon us a second powerful solo release. The EP contained only three songs, creating a longing for more, a craving ultimately satisfied with the album With the Eye of a Skeptic, Price’s new thirteen track CD.
The new release, unlike his previous work, is a CD in which we have become better acquainted with Bill’s acoustic sound, despite a full band consisting of seven musicians accompanying him. Bill produced the CD himself in collaboration with Michael Graham. The entire CD is very “telling” such as the title indicates, with thirteen stories about the most divergent subjects like everyday ones to the profound, such as politics and relationships. He paints as if using murals of sound about American life in all its aspects and in an intriguing way for the listener. He immediately demands attention with his first song “Hear Me Out” and through the end of the album with a farewell song, “Last Word,” leaving the listener with striking words that make you think about those who are leaving or dying. Once again there is that voice that reminds us once in awhile of a young Bob Dylan, above all in “Sticks and Stones.” Also very beautiful and peaceful is “Junkman” where, as in other songs, Stasia Demos draws attention with her especially stunning vocal harmonies. “Henry’s War” is about what the war does to people and the deep scars they leave behind. Every song is about another intriguing story according to Bill’s own and distinct view, because he is an excellent story teller using a mix of poetry and acute observations to compose his lyrics. Like his previous work, this work is another album that grows on you the more you listen to it and slowly but surely grips you as one of those records you will return to again and again in days to come.
By Maurice Hope, www.flyinshoes.ning.com, UK online magazine 02.22.10
Singer-songwriter Bill Price has a fine eye for detail, and likewise an ear for a good melody. When you put them together as on With the Eye of a Skeptic… alongside the help of a fine cast of musicians everything you could wish for falls into place, perfectly.
Price reminds me of another mighty fine acoustic musician, singer-songwriter by the name of Chuck Brodsky of whom I will speak of in detail at a later date via a review of his live twin-cd set, Two Sets. However, Bill Price is the man presently under the spotlight, and how I love his songs, the bustling melodies and, with him accompanied by Garry Bole (accordion, melodica), Stasia Demos (harmony vocals) Jamey Reid (drums), Jeff Stone (upright bass) and Paul Holdman (acoustic lead guitar) and Grover Parido (cello) plus, Price himself figures on Resonator, rhythm acoustic guitar, bouzouki and harmonium as a feast of folk, country and as is the case on “Blue Period Blues'” rockabilly flavoured fare spill forth on this his third full-blown album.
Price’s ability to combine poetic lyrics and imagery rich in organic tones coupled with, sympathetic support of the players ensure With the Eye of a Skeptic… is an album to savor. It is one that the listener will, repeatedly, return to and enjoy –a little better on each and every occasion. As in such tracks as the beautifully constructed “Foot In The Dirt,” “Junkman,” a fabulous, nicely paced tune lined with splendid female harmonies and “In a Flying Dream.” While the final track “Last Word” and the infectious opener with a terrific ‘won’t let go’ beat “Hear Me Out” (possessing some mighty accordion, harmony vocals; Holdman play a cittern solo and even harpsichord) has him stand up and speak his mind. Wonderful stuff.
For the songs where a little extra dash is added we have “Waterfall #2” a wry and quite funny “Henry’s War” (like with all the sings it has some well thought out notes and, as on this occasion help make the lyrics even more addictive) and on completely throwing off all inhibitions the sing-a-long “Sticks And Stones” featuring excellent cello, a fine rhythm section plus the imaginative “Fixer-Upper.”
Every angle is covered as lyrics and informative song notes are listed in the well-presented CD sleeve; if you are looking for someone who writes great songs then you need not look any further.
By Kev A., Leicester Bangs, www.leicesterbangs.co.uk 02.10
It appears that Bill Price has been hoovering up the ‘small’ stories. Those stories born and raised in Americana, which have been loitering with intent, and just needed someone to write them down and serve them up. With a delicious little bit of music, of course, and thus turn them out splendidly.
The album is a superbly literate set of 13 songs, one of the best of which, “In A Flying Dream,” epitomises Bill Price’s exceptional ability to make words into pictures: “In a flying dream, Custer was a poet, In a flying dream Little Big Horn was a band, In a flying dream Napoleon conquered his fear instead, China’s Great Wall was only sand.”
Even better, though, is the WWII veteran soldier’s anthem, “Henry’s War,” self-explanatory except that there is still a war raging for this stalwart of battle, and it’s closer to home…
The whole set is so beautifully simple you wonder why on earth it hasn’t been done before, until you remember that the simple things are, more often than not, the hardest to capture.
In this world crowded with literate singer-songwriters (and quite a few duds besides) it ain’t easy to get the recognition that should come their way. I have to hope that Bill gets the acclaim he deserves pretty soon, before we are all viewing this world with a dubious eye.
By Scott Shoger, NUVO Newsweekly 12.16.09
There’s not much to quibble with on Bill Price’s second solo full-length With the Eye of a Skeptic, a well-crafted and-executed, rather dense, 13-song set that sees Price considering politics, relationships, a sense of place, his own ethos and philosophy, his dreams for the future, the natural world and a good deal else.
Price gives shape to the album by opening and closing with two list songs: in the front, it’s “Hear Me Out,” which asks the audience to sit back and let him talk for a while (“A hymn or a dirge – the strangest things emerge – a song can cleanse the soul”), and in the back, “Last Word,” which considers the resounding impact of what a person does or says before his departure. Both tunes get at the things Price does best – that is, turning a familiar phrase or idea in just a little different direction, “hear me out” being not just a plea for an interrogator to hold up but also the songwriter’s gentle introduction, “last word” referring to the traditional last words on a death bed or upon leave taking, as well as those particular last words that stay with you once a person has gone. That notion of last words is an appropriate comparison to the experience of listening to a record – after all, the listener may not remember a dominant theme or bombastic moment, but simply a catchy riff or an oddly pronounced word that has a certain, maybe unconscious appeal.
Price’s lyrics are uniformly rich and thoughtful, full of internal rhyme and double entendres, sophisticated without being verbose. He picks interesting subjects, approaches them from what seems an honest and somewhat unique perspective and does so with chops enough to allow him to go just about anywhere with his ideas. Price excels in character studies: on “Junkman,” which reflects on a neighborhood figure whose collections won’t afford him what he’s really seeking, or the perceptive “Henry’s War,” which sees the narrator trying to get inside the head of a WWII vet (“You can pick your battles, you cannot pick your war / Henry Moore ain’t no more”). Price doesn’t hide his politics or passions: “Blue Period Blues” is an appropriately bluesy track that refers to Picasso and Duchamp, “In a Flying Dream” depicts an ideal world where Price’s heroes Woody Guthrie and Elizabeth Cotten are known to every schoolchild, and “Skeptic’s Lullaby,” which Price considers this “theme song,” is a largely dark and cynical tune (although lightly executed musically) which exemplifies, according to Price’s liner note, the notion that “we should have pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will.” He explores a couple well-chosen metaphors elsewhere: “Election Day” standing in for all the choices we have to make in life, “Fixer-upper” being a thing to look for both in a spouse and a house.
Price is also attuned to the natural world, and while I wasn’t as compelled by his American Indian-inspired tune, “Red Cloud” (which goes on a bit too long and thuds on the phrase that’s roughly a “tipi divided” cannot stand), I thought “Foot in the Dirt” an excellent change of pace – it’s the hymn that he promised in the opening song and it strikes a non-religious note (“Eye in the sky, foot in the dirt / For the steps up to heaven are made simply of earth”) with a balanced simplicity.
As an aside, Price’s music and arrangements tend to be a bit too pretty for my taste (hence the John Denver comparison I’ve applied to him, which is limited to his music, because his song craft and lyrics have nothing to do with the cloying Denver). And I find his voice a bit affected at times, with an extra hiccup or two stretching out a line. But that doesn’t detract significantly from his song writing, and is, to a certain extent, a matter of taste more than anything; the evidence of craft, experience and care is undeniable.
Price, who can be heard as both a solo act and with the Dylan-inspired band The Brains Behind Pa (which features bluesman Gordon Bonham, among others), has outdone himself on this release, which displays a level of care right down to the annotated liner notes, which give the lyrics alongside a brief and illuminating explanation for each song, all in a handsome Gothic font and layout that’s consistent with the gargoyle on the cover.
The backing band is uniformly excellent, so I guess I’ll have to note them all – Garry Bole’s accordion and melodica give the album a rich texture, Jamey Reid and Jeff Stone are solid on drums and bass, respectively, Paul Holdman turns in unobtrusive lead acoustic guitar lines, Stasia Demos offers a little harmony on background vocals and Grover Parido plays cello on a few tunes, with excellent multi-track work on “Sticks and Stones.”
By Martin Smit, The Next Big Thing blog 02.11.10
This is old-time country dance, girl/boy harmonies against a roots rocking band led by the jubilant skitter of the cittern (a sort of large bodied mandolin.) This is not all though; this is the personal, political, the thoughtful, the wishful, the dreamer making songs, the watcher singing.
We hear about the Junkman who learns about life in the bits and pieces he collects, the secrets we throw away without even knowing it. We debate within a blues swing room about the soul of modern art then to the strains of a lilting lullaby-like tune we are taken flying.
In his dreams, in this flight, years roll by jumbled, villains are given the chance to be heroes, history is scrambled, and re-sighed, re-written hope is rescued from the cynic’s prison.
Price may see these things, these choices, with the eye of a skeptic, but his belief in good, in the right decisions maybe being made, the fact that the future is really fragile and can be broken into something beautiful is what makes this collection a gift.
In the song ”Foot In The Dirt” the simple act, the lucid description of how it feels – just to cast away the heavy of the day and… walk, touches this listener because that escape has often been MY escape too.
So jump slow and jump calm into these songs and stories, get caught up in the seemingly effortless virtuoso playing of all involved and welcome this gentle raconteur into your home.
Cary Allen Fields, Host, Redbud Radio & The Fields of Bluegrass Radio Hour 11.09
Bill Price is a songwriter capable of creating a sweeping panorama or focused snapshot of American life within the space of a song, each evocation a compelling story that leaves you a better person for having listened.”
By Dani, www.rootsville.be 03.10
One has to have quite a passion for small print, when reading the name Bill Price, to immediately think of the band The Brains Behind Pa. This band might not be very well-known, but we have written about them quite positively in a past life.
Their record Better for the Deal is already more than three years old, but is still played often in villa H. This is not without its reasons, and the same goes for Bill Price’s solo record: The man has a gift of writing songs. Somewhere on his website we read that he sometimes had doubts about why he became a songwriter: Either because at a somewhat early age he came to the conclusion that he had an opinion about almost everything, or because he found out at the same time that he would always be an average guitar player. As far as I am concerned, it is irrelevant for what reason he decided to ‘get into music.’ As long as he keeps on making records of the same level as this ‘Skeptic.’
Bill claims to be influenced by Dylan and The Beatles. I could have told you that: The melodies flirt with pop music, the clarity and naturalness that also typified Lennon-McCartney. Price’s lyrics are always about something: The man has a gift of using words and is capable of very sharply writing down what his acute eyes see. Things that some of us sometimes wonder about, but usually tend to forget, are enough inspiration for Price to write a song about. Participating in a local election is immediately a reason to write a song about the choices you make every day; Bill can write about the phenomenon in such a way that you, as in a dream, are able to view the world and your own life from above. He is able to portray the falling and rising of mankind and realize, as one should, that the journey is more important than the destination. Anyway, Bill Price can write songs. Add to this that he is accompanied by a very competent band, with Garry Bole’s accordion occasionally taking the lead, and all the ingredients are present for a very arresting record. Something ‘Skeptic’ truly is. But please listen for yourself!
By Cis Van Looy, www.keysandchords.com 03.10
Price knows how to write a decent song. This has been demonstrated in great detail on Bones & Apples and Better For The Deal by The Brains Behind Pa, a collaborative project with guitar player Gordon Bonham.
A few musicians who are part of this musical collective, such as bass player Jeff Stone and Gary Bole (accordion), also play on Price’s second solo attempt that, with strong input by guitar player Paul Holdman, is evolving more toward folk. This does not mean the record puts you to sleep. On the contrary; the first track “Hear Me Out” swings quite a bit thanks to acoustic, but very dynamic rhythms. Another unmistakable plus are Stasia Demos’ harmonies, which are a nice addition to Price’s somewhat nasal sound. In the thirteen songs Bill Price does not only refer to personal experiences, but social issues are addressed as well in songs such as “Junkman” and “Red Cloud.” Politics aren’t ignored either. This is not a bitter pamphlet that is stuffed down your throat, but a personal statement about American society that is nicely wrapped in subtle music that invariably leads to very nice listening. Pay attention to the songs “Henry’s War” or “In A Flying Dream.” The accompanying book of lyrics contains some more info from the writer about each individual song.
By John Gjaltema, www.altcountry.nl 03.10
3 out of 5 stars
The CD title With the Eye of a Skeptic & a Few Other Likely Stories (Grass Magoops Records) immediately shows that Bill Price has a story to tell. The Indianapolis, Indiana singer-songwriter has written an album containing thirteen songs that last nothing short of 67 minutes. It might be a bit long for an album, but that might also be a reviewer whining. Anyway, Bill Price definitely keeps you captivated. His style is slight acoustic rock. The careful guitar play is remarkable, as are the meticulously written arrangements. In addition to Price himself, Paul Holdman is responsible for this guitar play. By playing multiple guitars, the sound is more varied. Other instruments used are the accordion, the melodica, the bouzouki and the cittern. Furthermore, the rhythm section keeps the songs, of which half last more than five minutes, snappy. The 8.42 minutes lasting “Red Cloud” is one of the highlights. In this song Price argues that we, despite all good intentions, are often quite hypocritical: “I looked a little deeper and I wondered / just exactly what my pose would’ve been / Would I have been cursed – had the roles been reversed / If I’d have worn the moccasin.” Available through CD Baby.
3.5 out of 5 stars = very good indeed
“What’s the deal with stories,” Bill Price wonders on the cover of his new CD With the Eye of a Skeptic…. Or: “Why do they attract us so much? Why do we love telling them?” And he appears to know the answer to these questions. “First and foremost,” he thinks, “stories can teach us a lot about ourselves.” They show us the true nature of our own being. “But,” he writes, “there is another aspect that attracts us. Something deeper, in fact. And that is that we keep reminding ourselves we are alive by telling stories. Stories help us to be in touch with others. And as long as we are in touch with others, we are alive and well.” This is why he calls stories a ‘currency of human contact.’ We feel like this is quite an interesting theory, since after close consideration it is hardly deniable and contains a lot of truth.
The fact is that Price’s wise words lead us to listen through headphones with above average interest to his new CD. And it did not disappoint at all. His version of Americana appeared to also leave room for other genres, such as pop, folk, jazz and rockabilly. That way, he ensured we experienced plenty of variety. And the fact that Price, despite the presence of a complete band, still chose to have a completely acoustic sound, seemed a plus to us as well. But in our view, the majority of his stars he receives are a result of his… stories! The creative brain behind The Brains Behind Pa captivates in thirteen ‘likely stories,’ which are almost always characterized by a ray of light at the end of the horizon. We thought the best ones were the ones in which Stasia Demos provided the harmonies and Garry Bole supported the songs with his accordion. Examples are “Hear Me Out'”and “Waterfall #2,” to just name a few. We especially want to recommend this record to people who appreciate guys like Bob Dylan and a John Wesley Harding. Especially the oeuvre of the last one is an excellent reference.
Heaven, Dutch Music Magazine 03.10
3 Stars (Good)
Bill Price has been alternating his CDs with his band The Brains Behind Pa since 2002. The thirteen songs of this singer/guitar player’s second solo record With the Eye of a Skeptic & a Few Other Likely Stories are more acoustic than the ones on his virile group records. Price’s singing and guitar form the sound, together with the semi-acoustic solo guitar player Paul Holdman. Against an often swinging folk arrangement, Price proves he has a personal approach regarding many themes: Politics, relationships, (future) dreams and American history (Grass Magoops Records).
By Peter Nordgren, Best Right Now, www.rootsy.nu 01.10
He has released a few albums in the past, both as a solo artist and as a member of The Brains Behind Pa. Folk rock-like, acoustic, strong songs, performed with an easy feeling that very much appeals to me.
By Bengt O. Tederborg, Best Right Now, www.rootsy.nu 01.27.10
Bill Price has made a few albums already, partly on his own, but also as a member of The Brains Behind Pa. This new album contains several strong songs that tend to wake your curiosity and interest. It is based on acoustic folk rock.
Perhaps story-telling is the most noticeable human trait as art.
Perhaps all her evolutionary strengths – and, as a result, also weaknesses, rest on this spoken ability to find representation of past and present, and pass it on in various ways. However, the stories must give some meaning, which has not escaped Bill Price in his Likely Stories. It is certainly not epic stories written with a beginning, middle and end, but rather a collection of both personal and general reflections.
Price also provides background to his reflections. The project is ambitious and often very successful. The secrets are in the details and in Price’s ability to bring out essential meanings both in the lyrics and in the music.
Surrounded by a band with a majority of acoustic instruments, such as double bass, drums, guitars etc., he gives us thirteen songs with, in most cases, considerable melodic strengths. The result is uniformly created and varied music, scoring several points in the lyrics. Musically, it’s about carefully ornamented folk music. Dylan is an obvious influence; the earlier Van Morrison another one. Price has a good voice, although he obviously has a ways to go in order to reach his role models’ uniqueness and total presence.
The band is quite superb. It is versatile and tight, moving between slower stuff, mid-tempo songs and numbers that are almost like 50’s rock ‘n roll. The guitarist Paul Holdman is especially a find. His solo, for example, of almost 9 minutes long “Red Cloud,” the best song, is excellent. Elegance and intensity are an unusual combination here.
“Stories keep us alive and aware, and they give us a context in this world”, writes Price. (Psychologists might claim they keep instinctual anxieties in check.) I agree with him on that point and his contribution to that context should be explored more often.
By Espen Strunk, gaffa.dk
4 out of 6 stars
Countrified root-record with literary aspirations
Even though the songwriter Bill Price from Indiana – who is not to be confused with the British producer and sound technician of the same name – has been performing folk music for the last thirty years or so, the present record is only his second long-playing album using his own name. Price has previously explored the American grass-root music tradition with The Brains Behind Pa – where the reference to Dylan is less than coincidental – and, even though the music is still intentionally traditional acoustic folk music, this time he is very much present in the style of the lyrics, where the level of ambitions is extremely high and sound.
In the record’s notes, Price contemplates the fascination of the story, and once again delivers thirteen of its kind. The tracks are supplied with additional explanatory texts and subtitles in the accompanying textbook. The Dylan-inspiration is true to form in the elaborated texts and the namedropping of a gallery of characters that stretches from Woody Guthrie, Elizabeth Cotten and general Custer to Picasso and H. D. Thoreau, while the music in certain points, evokes an acoustic Grateful Dead and also the late Warren Zevon. Tight, but brilliant.
By Ruud Heijjer, Heaven, Dutch magazine 02.27.10
3.5 stars (good, certainly for the devotees)
Bill Price alternates CDs with his band The Brains Behind Pa with solo efforts since 2002.
In the thirteen songs on his second full-length solo CD singer/guitarist Bill Price chooses to play folkier music than on predessessors The Circus & The Gallows and Bones & Apples and on the two CDs with his group The Brains Behind Pa. although BBP- keyboardist Gary Bole and BBP-bassist Jeff Stone contribute in a serving way here too. Still, Price’s vocals and guitar determine the sound, together with semi-acoustically soloing guitarist Paul Holdman.
Against an often swinging, folky background Price again proves that he personalizes all kinds of themes as a storyteller: politics, relationships, dreams (about the future), American history and inner cities. In the process he uses symbols and metaphores which cannot always be decoded instantly, but he explains every song in the booklet that goes with this beautifully issued CD. Apart from that, he links them thematically, also because opener ‘Hear Me Out’ and closer ‘Last Word’ turn it into a real song cycle.
www.babysue.com, online art, music, poetry and comics review 03.01.10
The third full-length solo album from Indiana’s Bill Price. In addition to recording solo, Price is also the driving force in the band The Brains Behind Pa. With the Eye of a Skeptic & a Few Other Likely Stories is a nice, laidback album driven mainly by acoustic instruments. Some might lump this album into the Americana category but in our opinion this would be more appropriately labeled mid-tempo folk/pop. Although far more normal than such a comparison might suggest, some of Bill’s tunes… and particularly his vocals… occasionally remind us ever-so-slightly of the bizarro obtuse underground band The Frogs. Not only are the songs on this album smooth and reflective… but the release also features really beautiful packaging that includes a lovely lyric booklet.
Thirteen keepers here including “Junkman,” “Foot in the Dirt,” “Red Cloud,” and “Last Word.”
Nice, sincere, and intelligent.
The singer-songwriter-guitarist Bill Price grew up on the music of light rock’s iconic figures, such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles. So it’s no surprise that when it came time for him to pick an instrument he chose the guitar right away.
When he first hit the stage he primarily covered songs from the performers above but, with time, his repertoire expanded to include more and more of his own songs. Price’s introductory album, entitled Old Hat, came out in 2002, followed by Bones and Apples in 2003, and Better for the Deal three years later. 2007 brought a three-song single called The Circus & The Gallows.
His most recent disc, With the Eye of a Skeptic (2009), contains thirteen songs. They are not really even songs, but more like musical stories. Although in reality it is not a one-man guitar production, the listener can easily picture the performer sitting on the stage alone as he starts into one of his short narratives. The collection includes 13 original tales, or whatever you want to call them. The song titles alone, from “In Flying Dream” to “Waterfall #2,” and from “Red Cloud” to “Last Word,” catch your attention. The songwriter paid great attention to detail on this recording, providing the listener with lots of additional information in the 15-page booklet that accompanies the CD. For example, he briefly describes the events that inspired a given story, and provides “explanatory” sub-titles for the compositions.
Although the poetic lyrics, teetering on the border between pop and folk, are somewhat tedious, they are accompanied by a musical background that makes Bill Price’s newest release much more palatable.
From Maverick Magazine (UK) 02.10
3 out of 5 stars
Indiana songwriter’s third solo outing.
The full title of this album, Price’s third solo release, is With the Eye of a Skeptic & a Few Other Likely Stories.
When not performing as a solo singer-songwriter, Indianapolis, Indiana-based Price fronts the roots rock band The Brains Behind Pa. Recorded over a three year period at the Lodge Studios in Indianapolis, owner Michael Graham shares the production credit with Price. Supporting Price are Brains Behind Pa alumni Garry Bole (accordion, melodica) and Jeff Stone (upright bass), plus Stasia Demos (vocal harmonies), Paul Holdman (lead guitar, cittern and bouzouki), Grover Parido (cello) and Jamey Reid (drums, percussion).
Price penned the thirteen songs and of those the standouts are the melodically energetic and muscular opening number Hear Me Out and the ballad paced Foot in the Dirt. Both lyrics reference connectedness, the former bids us communicate honestly and truthfully with our fellow man (as does the closing number Last Word), while Foot in the Dirt bids us celebrate life by exploring the physical beauty of this planet. Elsewhere, In a Flying Dream name checks historic figures-past and present-then paints their achievement(s) in a surreal topsy-turvy light. If there was a conclusion to draw from the latter, it’s that Price much admires the music of Elizabeth Cotten. In terms of the melody employed Skeptic’s Lullaby is an ironic title, while (the opening part of) the album title surfaces in the lyric.
Interview/Feature from Rogue Magazine
By Christopher Rudder 08.10
It’s this sort of folk music that brings me back to my recent trip to Croatia (Hrvatska). I took a 12 hour bus ride from the top of in a city called Riekja down along the Adriatic Coast to the old town of Dubrovnik. Bill’s music reminds me of the breath taking scenery particularly between Split and Dubrovnik with melodies like that of Bruce Hornsby & the Range. It’s nice to hear the older generation putting out great music, music that’s not affected by the popular culture and/or commercialism. The mature experienced, seasoned, musician pours out with every strum of a guitar.
As a fan of The Beatles and Bob Dylan as a teenager, Price set his sights on being a songwriter. “I don’t know if it was the realization that I was always going to be just an average guitar player, or the fact that I always have an opinion, that got me headed in the songwriting direction. But, for whatever reason, I just got that fire. I was inspired by certain music to try and do the same thing, and I still am.” Early collaborations with his cousin Dave Price and later on with Mario Noche were also based around writing original music. “Dave was the first person I knew that actually thought about having a “concept” for a song. Being in my early twenties, I thought that was pretty unique.” The collaboration with Mario Noche was also a fertile creative period. “I think we both respected each other’s songwriting ability and that inspired us to always try and bring something of quality to the table.”
In 2000 Price recorded his first album of original material, Bones & Apples. It received airplay in the US and Europe on college and independent radio. A songwriter that is in a band inspired by Bob Dylan is bound to take the next logical step – that is, write original music for his band. “It’s an obvious extension of what we were exploring in all the old songs and Dylan’s music. It was time to apply those qualities that we like in all of that music, to our own music. Carve out our own identity.” The resulting album, Better For The Deal, released in May of 2006, has fifteen original songs and strongly reflects the band’s influences. He has continued to play and record music both with The Brains Behind Pa and other musicians. Price released The Circus & The Gallows 3-song CD single in 2007.
In late 2009 he released With the Eye of a Skeptic…, a full-length, acoustic-based CD. “It has received some very warm reviews and radio airplay overseas – mainly in Europe. Price explains, “The reception to this record has been the most positive and extensive that any of my albums have received so far. We’ve had a couple of reviews in the U.K. and airplay in Ireland which is new ground for my projects.” There have also been positive reviews and airplay in, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and Croatia to name a few more. Price’s music has continued to gather momentum both locally and in Europe where the last few CD releases have seen healthy airplay and positive reviews from independent radio and media.
Just a blurb…! Just a quick note here…
Quite frankly, Bill Price’s new album, With The Eye Of A Skeptic & a Few Other Likely Stories is not really my style, at all. So, the fact that I’m taking a moment to write a quick blurb about it is just as much a mystery to me.
I had heard Bill many months ago on some sort of industry/promo compilation and for some reason his name stuck with me, so it was odd to receive this album in the mail a few weeks ago. I honestly put off listening to it for a while (not on purpose), but when I finally did, I was glad I had chosen to listen.
I can’t say that this is a record that will be widely accepted, but the album is quite an adventure! If nothing else, go purchase the album’s opening track, ‘Hear Me Out’ on iTunes.