Amy Stroup – The Other Side Of Love Sessions2011, Milkglass
Amy Stroup's The Other Side Of Love Sessions is a treatise on the mellow and earthy beauty that it is possible to obtain in pop music. With a smooth, silky alto and a folk singer/songwriter pastiche wedded to orchestral-style composition, Stroup wraps her arms around the listener like an old friend. Stroup goes outside of the box, refusing to focus either on the sudden joy of love or the heartbreak that often follows, but delving into the recuperative power of love and hope on The Other Side Of Love Sessions. Blending musical prose and musical lyricism in ever evolving measure, Stroup entrances as she maps out the geography of the human heart.
Opening with "Alas We Aspire" is a stroke of genius; this quiet, contemplative pop song features deep orchestration and deeper imagery to craft a gorgeous soundscape. You'll find yourself picked up by the musical flow of this song as if you waded in for a swim, with Stroup's sometimes haunting voice marking where the deeper waters flow. Hope is a running theme here, and surfaces for both "Chin Up" and "Hold On To Hope Love". Stroup moves toward a cleaner folk/pop sound on "Just You", casting a love song in haunting, muted tones that are lit from within.
Skating on the edge of heartbreak and peace, Stroup sidles through "Backed Into The Corner" and "Quiet Hearts", finding her way into the upbeat energy of "Just Takes A Little". While perhaps a bit subdued for pop radio, "Just Takes A Little While" has everything you could want in a pop song. Great hooks, great songwriting, and a chorus that corners you and won't let you slip away. "Love You Strongly" is a smooth love song that is a balm to the ears, exploring the emotion in real language without artifice or guile. Stroup wraps up with two pretty tunes that stick with the mellow vibe, "Redeeming Love" and the lovely "Wait For The Morning".
Amy Stroup is bound to make a lot of new friends and fans with The Other Side Of Love Sessions. The vibe might be a bit too reserved for some; Stroup writes gorgeous pop with the ethereal touch of Mazzy Star but without the incumbent depression. Even where a song doesn't quite set sail for Stroup, the sonic landscape she crafts is rich enough to hold your attention.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)