Ryan Taylor Price makes his solo debut with The Axe & The Tree, an album rooted in sharp songwriting and gorgeous, atmospheric Americana. 


Laced with pedal steel and mellow grooves, its a classic record for modern times. "Half Written Songs" unfolds like a blue-collar roots-rock anthem. "Careful With My Heart" blends timeless twang with country hooks. Fiddle and mandolin take centerstage on the string-band song "Old and Crazy." At the core of that sound is Price himself, pulling double-duty as the album's singer/songwriter and producer, crafting his own version of American roots music.


Price recorded The Axe & The Tree at home, pulling long hours in his basement studio in western North Carolina. The album marked the start of a new era. After decades of band projects and songwriting partnerships, this was Price's first time creating something truly personal and undiluted. The Axe & The Tree took shape during those basement recording sessions, with Price discovering his authentic creative voice as a solo artist. He filled the recordings with everything from acoustic guitar to an heirloom piano inherited from his wife's great-grandmother. 


Before moving to Hendersonville, North Carolina, Price cut his teeth in the Pacific Northwest, where he played lead guitar in a Seattle-based rock band and paid the bills by running sound at a local theater. He was a Washington native, having grown up in the Snoqualmie Valley. During childhood camping trips with his parents, he was inspired by a family friend who would pick songs on the guitar by the firelight. Price was hooked. Back home, he explored his father's record collection — which introduced him to classic songwriters of the '60s and '70s — and the country music his mother played on the radio. By his teenage years, Price was playing music, too, strumming his first chords on his mom's old guitar and playing his first shows with a band formed during high school. When that band came to a close, he went to school for audio engineering, expanding his horizons as a musician while also learning to make albums for himself and others. 


As a sound engineer, Price put his music career on hold while he ran sound for Kirkland Performance Center. By that time, he'd met the woman who'd become his wife and companion on an epic, cross-country move that would reshape both their lives and his art. The two had enjoyed their time in Seattle, but with the loss of both Ryan's mother and niece, the couple felt it was time for a change. At his mother's memorial service, relatives even asked Price why he'd stopped playing music, and he realized he didn't have an answer. "With two young kids and a new perspective, my wife and I began asking ourselves hard questions," he remembers. "We sold our house, hoping we could build a life that prioritized our family and allowed me to pursue music as a career."


With his wife, kids, dog, and a camper full of guitars, Price headed east. The family found a new home in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and Price began settling into the area's musical community. This was a place that loved traditional music. A place where people played acoustic instruments on porches. A place where the beauty of the great outdoors seemed to inspire the songwriters willing to engage with it. Price was certainly willing, and as he explored his own evolving sound, he carried with him all the inspiration gained along the way.  


That inspiration culminates with The Axe & The Tree. The album's title nods to a classic proverb — "The axe forgets but the tree remembers" — whose words are a fitting description for a record about the damage we inflict, the scars we leave, and the growth that happens in spite of those injuries. It's an album that pulls no punches, and what it reveals is a songwriter exploring the fragile dynamics of human relationships while embracing his priorities, from marriage to fatherhood to personal integrity. "It's the idea that the tree lives on, even though it may have scars from the axe," Price says of the album title. "Maybe it's even stronger for it. Maybe it's wiser for it. But most importantly, it lives on."


Ryan Taylor Price is still here, too, strumming the guitar that first captured his imagination as a young man in the Cascades, turning songs about resilience and personal growth into something universal.

Clallam Bay - 1982