For the Love of music

New York duo brings songwriting skill, warm harmonies to several area shows

January 11, 2007|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun Reporter

A few years ago, two singer/songwriters met at a New York City jam session.

Jamie Stellini had come for the open mike. Jessie Murphy was there to host the blues jam that followed. The two wound up becoming close friends, and, after some time, formed an acoustic duo called the Love. They're coming to the area for a handful of shows this month, starting Sunday at the Austin Grill in Silver Spring.

The Love's debut album, Songs for the Record, was released in October. It's filled with laid-back, upbeat grooves and warm harmonies.

"I love the sound of the record," Stellini said. "When we first started hearing the tracks, we were just like, `Wow, that's exactly what we wanted.'"

On Songs for the Record, Stellini plays keyboards, Murphy plays lead guitar and both sing and play rhythm guitar. Most tracks on the organic-sounding album, which was recorded over two months, have plenty of room.

"I love space," Stellini said. "Some of it is laziness. We were like, `Did we mean to play something here? Probably not, no. Sounds good.' I'm a heavy editor. We did do a lot of tracking."

While Murphy shied away from in-studio editing, Stellini loved to help the producer cut away excess instrumentation until a song took form.

"I love doing that actually - making shapes out of music," Stellini said. "I was like, `Nothing here, bring in just keys there.' I love doing that. I had a great time helping them put it together."

Stellini and Murphy live together in Queens but usually write music separately. Stellini said she'll often be sitting in one room and hear Murphy writing something in the next room.

"I'll knock on her door and say, `What is that; that sounds really hot,'" Stellini said. "She'll play the whole thing for me, and I'll say, `Oh, that's awesome; let's start working on that.'"

Occasionally, one will offer advice on a certain chord change or lyric, Stellini said. The two made a rule in the beginning that they would only play tunes they both were excited about, Stellini said.

"Even if she comes to me with something that she just wrote and she thinks is great, and I'm like, `You know what, I don't want to do that. I want to do that other song that you did that you maybe are not so excited about, but I want that one.'"

As a result, the duo ends up playing different songs than they originally thought they would, Stellini said.

"If I just did a solo project that sounded completely different, I probably wouldn't do half the things I do with her," Stellini said. "But because she brings something to them, that turns it into a different song, and I like it better."

The Love plays 8 p.m. Sunday at the Austin Grill, 919 Ellsworth Drive in Silver Spring. Call 240-247-8969 or go to The Love also plays the Evergreen on Coldspring Lane in Baltimore on Jan. 27 and the Wonderland Ballroom in Washington on Jan. 28.

For more information about the band and to hear some of their music, go to

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