Issue #141: Wilt All Rosy by Sayde Price

December 3, 2018

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Wilt All Rosy by Sayde Price
Released In February 21, 2011
Released By Northplatte Records

This Week’s Selection Chosen By SJ Lebowski

I am terrible at taking recommendations. All of them. I do not enjoy having books, music, TV, movies, whatever, handed to me with a “here, I loved this so you will, too!” I like a lot of things, and my tastes are wide, but they are also very specific. There can be one aspect of a certain thing that will ruin an otherwise pleasant experience, and try as I might to not, I often project that feeling of ruination, of wasted time, of a fundamental misunderstanding of the things I like onto the person who did the recommending. My friends know this about me, and most of them are really good about no longer pressuring me to like things just because they do. Some of my very best friends hesitate to recommend things, because they understand my autistic brain, and they know that I might end up resenting them for not getting me. There are, however, a handful of people who somehow get it. Who understand what I like and — perhaps more importantly — what I dislike well enough that I pay attention when they say that they think I should check something out (or even when they tell me that I should avoid it). A few years ago, there was a book that was very popular that I had resisted reading, even though it seemed like it should be perfect for me. My friend, C, warned me away from it, saying there were a few things in it that she knew would push my buttons. I didn’t listen to her, and then spent several hours angry at myself for disregarding her advice. If I find something on my own, I don’t have to worry about projecting that frustration onto someone else, y’see?

“So, why all the prelude,” you may be asking yourself. “Why has she written almost 300 words without even mentioning the artist she picked for this week?!” I swear I’m getting there.

In January of 2014, my friend Ben (whose musical taste matches mine nearly 1:1) started talking on Facebook about an album he’d recently purchased that he could not stop listening to. He loved it so much that he was offering to buy it for anyone that was interested. Knowing how our tastes overlap, I took him up it. Almost immediately, I had an email from iTunes with a copy of Sayde Price’s Wilt All Rosy and a note from Ben that said “THIS IS SOOOOOO GOOD IT HURTS~!!!!! Seriously, though.” (Yes, that is the exact wording, I have the email archived.)

That’s a lot to live up to. I downloaded it after the kids went to bed and pushed play on “Apathy Kills.” I groaned. What had I agreed to? I am not typically one for Indie Girl Plays Piano/Guitar/Uke and had a legitimate moment of worry that for the first time in the two-plus years we’d known each other, Ben was excited about something I couldn’t get into. But I didn’t hate it, which was saying quite a lot, so I kept listening.

And at the end of “Untitled No. 3,” I started it over. And I ended up playing the entire album over and over again for weeks. It was one of the only things I listened to the rest of that winter, and is one of the few albums I never feel the need to skip tracks on. Sure, sometimes I’ll play favourites several times in a row (I can’t listen to “Machines” or “Jester” just once), but skip ahead to them? [Shakes head emphatically.]

Even better are the rare live performances that survived the strange purge of this album (and much about Sayde, herself) from the internet. Here’s a live version of “Untitled No. 3″ that I send to people when I want them to check her out (the tone on that accompanying guitar, amirite?). And I do frequently urge people to check her out, once I know enough about their other tastes to ensure she won’t be lost on them.

While I listen to Wilt All Rosy throughout the year, something about it just feels like Winter, to me. I’m so grateful I had a friend who cared enough to make me listen, cause I can’t imagine cold weather without Sayde now. The snow and sleet are advancing in my neck of the woods, the wind’s stealing my walls, and it’s time to put this album on repeat. It really is so good it hurts. Seriously, though.

SJ Lebowski
50 Foot Pop Queenie

A sage, young songwriter with a mysterious footprint & imperative tone.

I was in line at the post office (long story — longer line!) the day after Thanksgiving when I realized with a start that, due to the crazy holiday week, I hadn’t listened to this week’s OYR pick. Scrolled to the bottom of the last issue, saw the name, and clicked over to Spotify. No dice, all I found were a couple of playlists called “Sayde Price – Wilt All Rosy,” neither of which contained any music by Sayde Price. Were they seeking to capture the mood of her music? Had Price name checked artists like Atta Boy and Driftwood Bones in interviews? Checked Bandcamp next and also came up dry. I Googled her and came across a sub-Reddit post called “What Happened To Sayde Price’s Music,” which reported someone’s distress at waking up and finding all of Price’s music gone from not only Spotify but also “YouTube, Amazon Music, Google Play, and iTunes!” What the heck? A helpful commenter gave a link to that led to a 404 error. The whole thread was from 2016, after all! Someone else gave a link to something called Bip Bip Bip by Bip Bip Bip on Bandcamp, an album that came out in 2013, two years after Wilt All Rosy, and is described thusly: “This is the music of Sayde Price played by herself and David Payne.” There was even a Sayde Price conspiracy theory on a Spotify comment board, with the writer claiming to hear something that sounded like her sampled on Bon Iver’s 22, A Million album, leading to speculation that her music “had been bought.” Whoa. Finally, I searched back into my Gmail and found the link from Doug to download the mp3s of the album, which meant I would have to wait until I got home. In my fascination, I even failed to notice that the issue wasn’t due for another week. Sayde Price was already working some kind of magic on me. Would the album live up to the mystery that developed during my time down the rabbit hole? I’m happy to report that it does, and then some. The cover illustration promised a folky and wise singer-songwriter and this was not a misdirection: as expected, the album is centered around Price’s singing and guitar. Her voice is natural, unaffected, and somewhere between early Natalie Prass and late Olivia Chaney on the quirk-to-crystalline meter (this is science, people) — clear, controlled, very rarely mannered. Most importantly, the voice, the melodies, the lyrics and the spare production are emotionally connected and aligned. That’s why Wilt All Rosy has touched people enough to have them posting on Reddit and creating conspiracy theories. Maybe that’s also why it’s important enough to Price — or maybe too revealing of her inner self (see lines like “And my father doesn’t know me, though I grew up in his arms” or “Cause I don’t live in your bloody hands / And if you slipped into the shaky cage of my ribs you’d understand” – both from “To Be Born“) — that she had to take it back from the world and put it away for safekeeping. I know you really want to hear this record now. Do what you can to find it and treat it with care when you do. And maybe you should also buy the fine Bip Bip Bip for a generous amount. Sayde Price deserves no less.

Jeremy Shatan (@anearful)
Prescient & Appreciative Musical Omnivore

The older I get, the more I’m convinced that how you listen is almost as important as what you’re listening to. It’s not that the what is trivial; it’s just that the how is so influential, and Wilt All Rosy offers such a beautiful case study in the benefits of focused listening. Of strolling neighborhood streets at dusk with headphones in. That’s how you notice the little things, like how the left channel in the stereo mix does an amazing job of varying instrumental voice, whether it’s the jolting piano stabs that punctuate “Machines,” the sweetly complementary guitar part during the second act of “Jester,” or the banjo that lends poise to “Darling.” Panning those elements is a hint as to what their inclusion was intended to achieve — the shading that helps you appreciate the depth of the full picture. And what amazing depth there is here when you think about the marriage of the music and the lyrics. There’s so much talk of alienation: There’s leaving (“I could just flee when the wind blows” in “Darling”); moving on (“The house he built won’t hold me” in “To Be Born“); and being alone (“I haven’t seen my mother in ages and my lover he does not exist” in “Jester”). Yet again and again, you find instrumental mixes that feel warm, present, and interconnected, like when good friends reconvene to recharge their batteries after life’s trials tested them individually. What a nice feeling to walk away with on a Sunday evening. Thank you, Sayde Price. And thank you, headphones.

Davy Jones (@youhearthat)
Idealistic Seeker Of Neoteric Sounds

The very fact that it arrived in the mail was impressive enough. In all my fourteen years, I’d only ever received letters from a great aunt or birthday cards from grandparents when we lived too far away for a visit. Inside the cardboard, nestled in a little bit of pink tissue paper, lay a crystal bottle of my first grown-up perfume, a bottle I’d had to save up to purchase and one that couldn’t be bought at the local Wal-Mart or Merle Norman. A far cry from the candy-flavored Lipsmackers and strawberry body sprays, this rose perfume felt a little dangerous, walked me close to this abyss as I understood female sexuality, and spritzing that first little bit on to the inside of my wrist made my heart beat faster. Besides the obvious connection in the title, playing Wilt All Rosy had the same exploration of feminine and self-awareness. Delicately beautiful, Price’s warmly sharp voice hangs in the forefront of the album, always in the spotlight, always standing up with full posture. Musically she is conservative, highlighting instead not just her gorgeous voice, but those rich, complex lyrics with a style reminiscent of Judy Collins. Subtle but powerful, her style opens her up to criticisms reserved for coffee shop teenagers with a guitar, that kind of stereotype that shouldn’t get so much play but exists in our culture, but Price transcends that label by being so feminine, complicated, open, and honest.

Laura Burroughs (@_thetwors)
Jestful Musical Erudite

I like the self-awareness here. Wilt All Rosy isn’t just a title, it’s a mission statement. Sayde Price presents us with some awfully heavy subject matter, but it’s presented to us with the angelic nuance of Price’s voice. So no matter how soothing her tone (the “rosy” part), the melancholy content (the “wilt” part) prevails. She’s the sugar for your medicine — an appealing, almost subversive masking agent to make her downtrodden messages palatable. And boy, does it work. I was completely captivated by tracks like “Jester” and “Child.” The depressing themes whizzing by me in the midst of Price’s lovely vocals. I found myself tapping my feet to the infectious groove of “Machines,” a bluesy, parlor-esque number brought together by the glue that is Price’s foamy murmur. Wilt All Rosy is a deceptively dense collection of intelligently written and delivered records. It’ll make you listen on more than a surface level, and I think that’s what every artist wants at the end of the day.

Kellen “J. Clyde” Ford (@jclyde757)
Steadfast Hip-Hop Historian & Creator

Click here to watch an intimate live performance of “Untitled No. 3.”

Haunting in its resonance, and memorable in its captivation.

It’s a damn shame that Sayde Price and this album of her’s seems to have become like a shadowy ghost in buried under the depth of the web. You know it’s there, you know she at one time was more prominent for making the songs on the record, but it takes more digging than you’d think would be necessary to hear them or to learn more about her. This was especially sad for me when I finally did get around to hearing Wilt All Rosy because it exudes the hallmarks of everything I often find charming in singer-songwriter music: Light toned, acoustic leaning instrumentation, clear and cleanly recorded performances, a distinct and enjoyably memorable voice, and melodies that unfold with a flow that sounds the way a happy-go-lucky person skipping down the sidewalk, looks. Thinking with a bit more specificity, it would probably fit better to say that Price exudes much of the same qualities as Regina Spektor — a singer-songwriter often fueled by her own sense of thematic and sonic quirks. Wilt All Rosy is piano, guitar, and vocal dominant, not unlike much of Spektor’s more fanciful work across earlier albums like Begin To Hope (2006), or later albums like What We Saw From The Cheap Seats (2012). Beyond these more general arrangement related descriptors however, while perhaps less of an overt parallel to pick up on, as I initially was trying to connect my inclinations of Spektor to Price’s song style, it was the cimbalom that appears early on track three, “Machines,” that allowed my knee jerk thought to finally click together. The song itself is full of dissonant moments (heavy handed, low octave, note clashing piano chords in the verses) that stand back to back with a cheerful, major interval-laden chorus melody. But it’s the cimbalom specifically, and it’s intermittent trill-like flourishes in the latter made me think of traditional Russian/Eastern European music and thus, pushed the artistic connection my mind was making, over the edge. Truthfully though, it’s not as if Price is simply a cut out or near carbon copy of Spektor. Her voice rings out with a kind of razor sharp precision that seems like it should be at home with the delicate voiced indie girls of early 2000s pop but what saves Price from being shuffled in among them is an observable lack of airy ambiguity on her pronunciations. (See the many words discussing the “indie girl voice” pop culture phenomenon.) It’s as though her voice traces lines like a dark, easy-to-follow, but fine tipped pen that produces no sonic bleed like the aforementioned trend. The flip side to this same quality is that I would have a hard time picturing Price belting out to a crowd of thousands on stage at Madison Square Garden but who’s to say that if there weren’t more after Wilt All Rosy, that nature would take its course and that Price might not find herself developing a bit more vocal depth to help carry her uniquely refined but unwavering voice to more ears. For what it is, as it is, Wilt All Rosy is a refreshing, melodically appealing, and cliché-minimal acoustic record that I can’t wait to revisit when spring and summer roll back around because I think it’s going to fit the scenery of those seasons just wonderfully.

Kira Grunenberg (@shadowmelody1)
Prolific Sonic Scribe & Unifier

I think it takes a special person to stand out from the endless lines of wannabe singer-songwriters. You know the types, same old songs sung in quirky falsettos with vintage guitars. The many hordes of lost souls who long to be the world’s next Bob Dylan. It takes a hell of a lot of special something to break out of that. Every now and then, we get a taste of something good, but it takes time and a lot of luck for us to find it. Somewhere between alternative titans Gotye and Regina Spector lies the blossoming Sayde Price and her 2011 release Wilt All Rosy. Price is a tender-hearted and quick witted singer songwriter with a certainly short but impactful discography, and that discography’s bright beacon is Wilt All Rosy, a poignant record that comes over as the soft-spoken but sensible musings of an admirable friend. The album is direct and simple in its lyrics, and the music lends itself to this. As Price’s voice gently pours out over her warm and ghostly acoustic guitar tones, you can really absorb her essence through each track. It’s an experience, from top to bottom. I deeply admire artists that can capture that “feels like live” vibe in their recordings. It only makes me long to see what I’ve imagined with my own eyes. If you’re looking for something that’s sweet but sickly, tender yet firm, an album that can make you feel like you’ve been abandoned at the edge of a platform and rocks you like a journey on one of those picturesque steam trains, look no further than Wilt All Rosy by Sayde Price.

Erin Calvert (@erinpcalvert)
Elder Goth In The Making

I wouldn’t label these songs as breakup songs, per se. It’s more like sober consideration on relationships gone by. Sayde Price sings mostly in a matter-of-fact style, suggesting her words aren’t so much lamentation as notation. There are hints at regret, sure, but the feeling is closer to remembrance than reflection. Even when she discusses being condescended to, it’s in a mostly stoic manner. And the sparse arrangements go along with the letting-go atmosphere. It’s like she doesn’t wanna add too much to any of the proceedings, lest it be interpreted as overthinking or feelings to be rekindled. The music is just enough to get the point across and then move on. By extension, then, Wilt All Rosy is not a breakup album, but one about change. Its songs point out that the narrator no longer loves the other person and that the relationship has simply run its course. It happens, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less to the other party. I’ve learned that part of getting over being broken up with is accepting that change is a(n important) part of life. It’s tempting to call this a pity album — Is that even a thing? — but that seems reductive and at least partially inaccurate. Instead, perhaps Rosy could be called a change album. It’s a little odd and a bit clunky as a term but it works, I guess. Whatever you wanna call it, change is inevitable. That may not make it any easier to swallow, but Price at least makes it easier to listen to.

Steve Lampiris (@stevenlampiris)
Sure, Let’s Go With That

I go back and forth on this a lot here at OYR, but I know next to nothing about Sayde Price outside of Wilt All Rosy. I’m not even entirely sure how to pronounce her name. As curious as I was to learn more about her immediately after hearing “Apathy Kills,” between working late night after late night for the past two weeks and trying to switch phone carriers, I felt like I didn’t have the time to do a my usual Google research (for argument’s sake, I realize that I could look her up as I write this, but if I did that it would make me a liar). But here’s something that I do know about Sayde Price: her music has a very nostalgic quality to it and makes me think about an ex-girlfriend. Not in a overly negative or upsetting way, it just reminds me of her. Maybe it’s because I recently got a Facebook invite from her to “like” her new business page, or maybe it’s because I’ve been re-reading a book that I first read around the time she and I started dating (in case you’re curious, it’s Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) (now that I’ve put those thoughts into words, it’s probably the first thing), but listening to Wilt All Rosy has gotten me to think about her a lot in the last day and a half. I’m pretty sure she would have put a song like “Darling” on a mix for me, and the album’s entire second half, from “Child” to “Untitled No. 3” would have made it onto our “falling asleep” soundtrack. I think the most surprising thing about all of this, to me at least, has been that I haven’t felt any pangs of regret for ending our relationship like I usually do. Sure, it’s still sad that after almost eight years together that things didn’t work out, but I feel like Wilt All Rosy has tapped into a place in my mind that I hadn’t been able to access yet — being able to remember the good times we spent together in spite of it coming to an end. It took me awhile, but I can thank this album for helping me start to get there.

Dustin Gates (@cmoncheermeup)
Relapsed Pop Culture Junkie

A model singer-songwriter that performs with heartfelt aplomb and familiar significance.

It’s a little like finding a fossil. You’d heard about it, you’d figured it was possible, you dug through dirt and brushed off the obscurities in anticipation until it surfaced — a single record of a wonderful time. Sayde Price, the young lady with the old lady’s name produced one record — 2011’s Wilt All Rosy and another, far darker, under the obscure self-titled Bip Bip Bip in 2013. Short of that, you’ll find a handful, of poorly produced amateur YouTube videos of her playing to uninterested passers-by in a subway tunnel or at a red-lit nightclub. It’s as if they have no idea how beautiful her music is. I didn’t either. The open heart beauty, vulnerability, and quality of the production of Wilt All Rosy would be enough to raise suspicions that the disappearance of Price was a deliberate move by a particularly dedicated long-game marketing strategy. But this happens sometimes. The seemingly unstoppable Carmen Townsend, when she was on the cusp of taking over the world and had just secured a national tour with female rocker legends Heart, also fell off the face of the earth. In her case, it was rumoured to be attributed to a particularly devastating death in the family. But Townsend is finally emerging again, appearing at small venues in her home province. Sayde Price, as far as I can tell, has not. There’s an ominously stark Reddit discussion which asks where she’s gone and ends unanswered. The Facebook profile is a suspiciously defaulted musical note — the equivalent of Twitter’s “Egg” with the lowercase moniker — all the signs of something auto-generated like a Russian bot. Dinosaurs in our minds and our imaginations are beautiful and inspiring creatures despite the fact that all we can find is bits of bone and disparate physical echos of their existence. So too was the would-be career of Sayde Price when all you can gather is the simple acoustic elegance of Wilt All Rosy. So rather than focus on the negative space of what would never be, we can only celebrate by replaying over and over again what is.

Darryl Wright (@punksteez)
Lovechild Of The Music & Technology Marriage

It should be fairly unsurprising that I loved this album. It checks off a lot of boxes for what I look for in this kind of music: very eloquent singer with a lovely voice, music that is interesting but also very familiar, mostly solo but with occasional gang vocals. So yeah, I loved it. It’s the kind of album that I would normally have picked up after seeing her perform at a coffeehouse probably in DC or Richmond these days, but at one time, it might also have been in Virginia Beach. I would have been so charmed by her amazing presence that I would have listened to the album on repeat for weeks afterwards, just remembering what it was like when she performed them live. The fact that I don’t have those memories to draw upon is actually kind of disappointing, in a weird way. But that fact also speaks volumes for the quality of this album, which is immediately effective. I want each song to go on forever, as well as the album even though, semantically, I know it’s impossible. I’ve felt this before and it generally leads to me listening to every song available from an artist. It’s one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. Ah. And now I’m experiencing one of the worst feelings in the world: a Google search informs me that this is her only album. That is heartbreaking. I can only hope that this newsletter finds her and inspires her to record more. For now, I’ll just hit repeat on this gem of an album.

James Anderson (@unabashedjames)
Devoted Docent Of Musical Concepts

The thing about this time of year is that while it is usually beautiful and magical, it also signifies change. I’ve always loved the holiday season and I’ve never been good with unnecessary change and as I get older, I find it harder to enjoy the season like I used to. I get so caught up with what is going on in my life, with the people that are around me, and I forget to take the time to just relax and honestly hibernate for a bit – I mean, that’s what winter is for, isn’t it? What I love about this album, is that it is great to listen to when I need to just have that “me time.” It has such a pleasant, upbeat sound, and even if some of the tracks have more melancholy lyrics, I found that overall, it has a positive energy surrounding it. Her voice also holds a unique ability to makes me really feel and experience the emotions in each song, all while still being up-lifting if that makes sense. I think that my personal favourite track would have to be “Untitled No. 3” as it speaks to that feeling of inevitable change that is bound to happen; that even though you may feel alone, there will always be something coming your way. Change is never easy, but everything happens for a reason. Honestly, I will be playing this album for months to come — definitely a ray of sunshine in a grey season.

Chelsea Kostrey (@chelseakostrey)
Retrophile & Festival Enthusiast

Like many of you reading, I’m one of those music fans who loves to latch onto lyrics from songs, so much so that I often hold back while singing in the car, saving everything for a key part or a super important lyric. In the instances I get interrupted by slamming on the brakes or getting a phone call, I’ll annoyedly rewind the song to make sure I get that moment… even though I’ll probably just hit repeat on the song when it’s done just to relive it all again. (The whole second verse of “Glitter” by Charly Bliss comes to mind with countless instances of rewinding it right when the guitar kicks back in overtop “Everything we say is right.”) Despite this, I often find myself not really singling out lyrics or connecting with them in the context of this publication. It’s mostly a byproduct of the schedule we’re on — three or four listens in a week is hardly enough time for a lyric to infest my brain, though it does happen in rare occasion. If you haven’t guessed already, Sayde Price is just one of those rare occasions. She sings with such clarity and such fortitude that I find myself floored by lines on the first listen… something that hasn’t happened to me in a long, long, long, long time. “I curse them to the grave, and send them on their way” from “Dirt” was something I found myself humming while heading to lunch today, and the whole “I expect” section of “Machines” is something I’ve rewound and revisited on countless drives over the past week. It’s not just the words too — it rarely is for me — it’s the way they are sung, the way the shape the song around them, and the way that it hits on everything I need out of that specific song. (That last part is crucially important — it’s not about enhancing the tone of the song, but enhancing my interpretation of it.) Price is such a talented performer that I find Wilt All Rosy full of these moments. Nearly every last song has a line I patiently await and get chills as it washes over me, whether accompanied by a vocal lift, an instrumental swell, or a vanishing backdrop that lets the words truly echo through my headphones. It’s not just the lyrics though — I find myself floored by the majority of Wilt All Rosy. Every bit of it carries a pristine tone from the timbre of the instruments to even the selection of instruments on each track (the inclusion of banjo on “Darling” threw me for a loop my first listen). Mostly though, I’m floored by Sayde Price, a musician the very definition of nimble, or maybe better yet, the standard for what nimble should be in modern day singer-songwriters. Her voice, though familiar for anyone who loves a guitar/singer with a higher register, feels unique even in 2018 as its seems to rise above silly tropes and cliché descriptions: she sings too richly to be described as nasally, and too firmly grounded in reality to be called airy. She doesn’t chirp or warble – she proclaims and vociferates. She doesn’t sway – she commands. So powerful is her performance and control of the music that I know these lyrics wouldn’t impact me in any considerable way housed in another song or a book of poetry. It’s her dictation of these words, through forceful soul and heartfelt sincerity, that makes me re-visit them over and over again as daily affirmations when I need them the most, even if “need them most” is a scenario I find myself in a lot more since discovering this gem.

Doug Nunnally (@musicdoug)
Garrulous Aural Braggart

Next Week’s Selection:
Ryan Leslie by Ryan Leslie
Chosen By Kellen “J. Clyde” Ford

Off Your Radar Newsletter

Editor: Doug Nunnally

Contributors: James Anderson, Laura Burroughs, Erin Calvert, Kellen “J. Clyde” Ford, Dustin Gates, Kira Grunenberg, Davy Jones, Chelsea Kostrey, Steve Lampiris, SJ Lebowski, David Munro, Drew Necci, Jeremy Shatan, & Darryl Wright

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