What’s the other side of love? There’s the love you see in movies. The love you’re taught as a child will be your due when you grow up. Fairytale love. Brotherly love. But there’s another side to it.
“When you actually live through something real, you realize there are a lot of aspects of love,” says singer-songwriter Amy Stroup. “There’s a lot of pain. It takes courage. There’s something you have to fight for. Actually living a life with someone gets ugly.”
And in that, there is beauty: Amy has been named one of Prairie Home Companion’s “Top 20 Songwriters Under 30” and won a national Peacemaker Award.
Her new CD — “The Other Side of Love Sessions,” in stores on June 28 — compiles the best songs from her previous digital-only EPs and bathes them in a new light.
“All these songs,” she says, “explore different types of love.”
There is the sweeping and yearning love of “Hold on to Heart Love,” so affecting it has been featured in the hit TV shows “Brothers & Sisters,” “Private Practice,” “One Tree Hill” and “Army Wives.”
There is the lilting, aching love of “Quiet Hearts,” featured in “Greek,” “One Tree Hill” and “Pretty Little Liars.”
There is the driving, determined love of “Backed into a Corner,” which you may have heard in Grey’s Anatomy.
The searching quality of Amy’s music can be traced in part to her inveterate upbringing. Born the child of religious parents in Boston, she spent much of her girlhood traveling. “There’s the military families that move around and the church families that move around,” she jokes.
Under the tutelage of her grandmother’s best friend, she started learning classical piano in second grade. “Every time I learned a new chord, I would write a song to it,” she says. And when she wasn’t writing songs on piano, she was learning to sing in the Church of Christ, a denomination that prefers their music a capella. (“That’s where I learned my harmonies. It’s real pure.”)
Vacations consisted of piling the family into the VW van and traipsing around the country singing, with a young Amy taking the alto parts. When they stayed in town or visited New York, the family would check out the Boston Pops, see James Taylor in concert or take in a musical (Amy has a soft spot for Les Miserables and the Phantom of the Opera.)
When Amy was entering middle school, the family moved to Texas. In seventh grade, she decided to take up the guitar. “My grandmother told me it wasn’t ladylike to play guitar,” she recalls. “I didn’t care.” She sat out back on her six acres of family land, figuring out the chord progressions to Bob Dylan records. She also taught herself half of Jewel’s oeuvre from watching her on MTV Live. Dixie Chicks, Lucinda Williams and Patty Griffin “were my soundtrack growing up. I was organic and self-taught.” This rich stew of influences can all be heard in the music she makes today.
At Lipscomb University in Nashville, she studied classical guitar and marketing, which may not have been such diametrically opposed pursuits as they appear. “I knew the music industry was changing. The record deal was disappearing,” she says. “The next step would be independent and musician driven.”
And so it was: Upon graduation in 2005 she recorded an EP and in 2006 a full-length record, but they didn’t quite sound like music she heard in her head. That breakthrough came with the help of producer Thomas Doeve, who runs Paper Swan studio out of his basement. The first sessions resulted in “Hold on to Heart Love,” a song that captured exactly how she wanted her music to be heard: “Super-honest, underproduced. Organic.” She recorded six more songs, then another EP. Then a third. All in her own name.
As word got out about her music, it was placed as background music for pivotal scenes in popular TV shows, and the occasional national ad (Wal-Mart, eHarmony). “It was unique and cool to have my music used in certain scenes to capture the emotion of what was happening,” she says. Over the past 18 months, her songs have been featured in more than 20 different shows.
Those songs — and more — are collected in the “Other Side of Love Sessions,” and released on CD for the first time. “The traditional label model doesn’t work any more,” she says. “We’re releasing music differently. We’re making iPhone videos and putting them on YouTube. Everything has been organic, grass-roots and hands-on.”
Down the road, she says her goal would be to score a movie. But as her career charges forward, she’s happy to take a breath a remain still in Nashville — “a great community for songwriters” — for a while. “I moved around so much as a kid,” she says, “I’ve found the spot I like and I’m going to stay here.” Maybe that’s what the other side of love looks like.
“Amy Stroup has what is a rarity among most people doing music but common for all great artists that make a real impact – unique artistry that is immediately identifiable. That special something that cuts through the noise. I’ve been a fan since the first song.” – Nathan Chapman- Grammy Award Winning Producer
“Amy’s music is interesting, lyrically compelling, and musically fresh. Plus she is an incredible singer and performer. Her view of the world as a songwriter is unique and optimistic, vulnerable and strong. “ – Jody Williams- VP BMI NASHVILLE
“Amy is one of the most talented independent singer/songwriters working in Nashville today. She stunned me performing live on our Nashville Sunday Night broadcast and as I investigated her recordings, I found gems like “Hold On To Hope Love,” “I Fell For You” and “I’m In,” which should all be hits.” – DAVID HALL, Operations Manager/Program Director L100
“Amy has a tender gracefulness to her voice that takes the listener into a song and has them hanging on her next word.” – Trent Dabbs, songwriter
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