Understandably enthusiastic about the artistic upsurge emanating from her adopted hometown, Amy Stroup says, “There’s something happening that has never happened before, beyond the country music world––it’s a very cool time in Nashville.” This cool time is vibrantly captured in the new ABC-TV documentary For The Love of Music: The Story of Nashville with Stroup featured alongside the Civil Wars, the Black Keys, Kings of Leon and many more artists working far outside of the country mainstream.
With her latest solo collection, Tunnel, the singer/songwriter is contributing to this progressive oeuvre. She operates on multiple creative levels: in a duo called Sugar & The Hi-Lows with Trent Dabbs; as a member of the touring singer/songwriter collective Ten from Tenn and with her own marketing and management company, Milkglass Creative. Television placements have showcased her songs with Parenthood, Dallas, Vampire Diaries, One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy as prominent credits.
Stroup grew up following her father’s ministry across America, eventually settling in Abilene, TX. In 2001, she moved to Nashville to attend Lipscomb University, where she recalls how witnessing Patty Griffin opening for the Dixie Chicks made an immense impact. “Patty immediately takes you to a place where you feel or remember something,” she says. “If I could write something half as good as her I would die happy.”
Penned in a three-year span, the songs on Tunnel were tracked in two separate sessions with producers Thomas Doeve and Konrad Synder respectively. Among the standout tracks is the pensive “Versailles,” co-written with Doeve on a songwriting retreat in France. “We had this sense of the story of what Versailles used to be; the wealth and prestige. There is this looming sadness––we don’t build buildings as majestic anymore. The story of Versailles reflects this time that I was going through emotionally. I wanted to parallel this––the sadness you feel when something really good can’t be experienced anymore.”
An homage to an iconic ‘80s track, “Toy Soldiers,” a hit for Martika (co-written and produced by Michael Jay), provided the inspiration for “Finally Found Our Way.” Recalls Stroup, “I wrote that with Pilar Diaz, who grew up in Chile. Pilar was playing ‘80s videos, and when we connected on ‘Toy Soldiers’ we challenged ourselves to write a song that evoked that feeling.”
A line in the song “Sabotage” expresses, “…gotta find the right way out.” According to Stroup this escape hatch is “the one where you come out alive. The girl who co-wrote that with me (Mary Hooper) was going through something super hard. We wrote that on an upright piano near my breakfast area. It was so emotional.”
The song was featured on One Tree Hill before being collected on Tunnel. Many of the new songs have already earned roles in network series including Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, Switched at Birth and The Vineyard.
The Los Angeles-based company Secret Road does an admirable job of placing Stroup’s songs in a variety of media. “I have been working with Lynn Grossman for the past four years and I love her.”
While Stroup enjoys the process of writing to scripts and scenes on assignments, she says that the best songs often exist without these directives.
“To write a song and to see it used in other places, and in others stories, films and television shows––that’s my favorite thing. It makes me feel like I’ve written something honest that people can connect with. To me it’s about writing a good song and it will find a place.”
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