Song Premiere: “Cold Hearted Truth,” By Swearingen & Kelli Music Features
by Ken Templeton - July 12, 2019
I mean, it’s that harmony. When you hear a duo that is really singing together–and by that I mean listening as much as anything else–it’s a special and unique sound. Swearingen & Kelli do just that and we are thrilled to premier their song, “Cold Hearted Truth,” the title track from their forthcoming record, which will be out in September.
When recording this album, Jayne Kelli says, “We wanted the audience to feel like they were right in the room with us.” Using analog technologies and playing mostly live, AJ Swearingen, says the goal was to “capture that 3D sound where you’re together in one room, focusing on the songs, and finding that human element.” Amen. Jayne adds, “Unlike our past albums, we wrote the majority of this record together, and this was the song that kicked it all off.”
It’s one of those songs that makes you stop what you’re doing, close your eyes, and just appreciate what you’re hearing. When Jayne comes in on that second line–it’s just perfect. One of my favorite aspects is the note they sing to end the second line of each verse. It creates this dynamic tension that is missing from so many songs and it makes you shiver. I don’t know what the musical term is for what they’re doing, but I know it’s beautiful and rare and that to describe it technically would somehow lessen its impact. The production decisions on this tune are so subtle and gorgeous: the bass played with a bow; the lilting pedal steel, and then when the tremolo on the violin comes in, it all just adds depth and texture to a beautiful song. AJ and Jayne said they were listening to a lot of Buddy and Julie Miller before writing this song, and playing versions of their songs, and you can certainly hear that influence. But they’ve made something all their own with their own signature approach, and it’s one that others would do well to emulate down the road.
VIDEO PREMIERE: “HOT SOUTHERN NIGHTS”
BY SWEARINGEN & KELLI
The “good old days”–like fine wine, memories get more robust with time, the rough edges of circumstances smoothed out by its passage, leaving the best parts behind. In their new video “Hot Southern Nights,” Americana duo Swearingen & Kelli pay homage to the simpler times of AJ Swearingen’s parents and their humble beginning amongst the Appalachian coal mines of West Virginia. The video, directed by Frank Weysos, offers a classic summer scene set around a roaring bonfire, complete with some ice cold beers and friends to share them with.
“I wrote this song on the airplane after a visit with AJ’s folks, looking through old family photos of their life in West Virginia,” says bandmember Jayne Kelli. “I just kind of romanticize that simpler time, especially with how life is today. We thought this was kind of fun and tongue and cheek for us, but when we played it for some friends they loved it, and so did our producer, Mitch Dane, who knew just what to do with it.”
Swearingen & Kelli will release their new LP Cold-Hearted Truth on September 20th. Like the title suggests, Cold-Hearted Truth is an album rooted in honesty as its 11 tracks find the band reaching deep into their family histories and their own personal crusades. They deliver stories about endurance, addictions, old stomping grounds, false starts, and getting things right the second time around; as Swearingen says, “These songs are about recognizing where you’re from.” With its slinky bass groove, saucy guitar licks, and hip-shaking swagger, “Hot Southern Nights” beckons you to take a load off, come on over, and stay awhile. And that’s never a bad thing.
Without further ado, Mother Church Pew proudly presents “Hot Southern Nights,” the new video from Swearingen & Kelli:
New Music for Early October:
Featuring Swearingen and Kelli
The husband-wife team of Swearingen and Kelli (AJ and Jayne) offer up a delightful new album heavy on love songs. Swearingen grew up in Pennsylvania with a love of outlaw country, Jim Croce, and the guitar playing of David Lindley. Kelli was weaned on artists such as John Denver, Glen Campbell, and Fleetwood Mac. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that their music draws from country, folk, pop, and soul—the stuff we tend to call Americana. It’s honest stuff and they have great voices. Listen hard to the launch notes from Swearingen; he’s a baritone, but you’ll hear bass at the bottom. Kelli is skillful in adding hints of defiance to her prettier tones. The title track of Marrying Kind is tender, but forceful—as befits a song about a woman who thinks she might not be cut out for matrimony, but might go there—on her own terms! Freedom and risk-taking also get workouts on “Trying to Try” and “Survival.” For his part, Swearingen adds husk through both voice and a variety of guitars, including a lap steel and an old Rickenbacker. The only video currently available from the new record is “Annalise,” a bittersweet remembrance of true love. This one is a tad lighter than some of the rest, so check out older stuff on their Website as one of the things I like about these folks is the way they mix things up. ★★★★
"ANNALISE" now playing on
The Daily Country
Husband-and-wife duo Swearingen and Kelli are preparing to release their new album, The Marrying Kind on July 21, 2017. Steeped in the sounds of Americana and Folk, the Florida-based twosome - AJ Swearingen and Jayne Kelli - presents twelve songs that challenge the listener to explore life’s hard questions on topics such as taking risks, death, and the struggle to make a connection, while embracing the moment. Honest songwriting, emotional, balanced vocals, and a poignant, yet haunting melody figure prominently on one of the album's tracks, “Annalise” the tale of a man holding onto a memory of his true love.
"Annalise your memories are so cold.
But you're still the light that shines from long ago
I can't believe the way you left it all.
And I waited through the winter and the fall.
Don't you burn it down, don't you burn it down"
AJ Swearingen tells the story behind the song, "This song was inspired by multiple conversations with a friend back home, who, after many years, is still holding onto a love from his past. The idea of that love still haunts him and keeps him from moving forward. There is a real person symbolizing his Annalise."
The video, while shot on a beautiful ranch in Plant City, Fl exudes a heavy, almost nebulous atmosphere that is complimented by the imagery present. Swearingen comments on the inspiration behind the treatment, "Jayne immediately had a vision for the darker vibe of this song. Our director [Donna Green, who also shot their album cover] put on camera filters to create this mood despite the bright Florida sun." Kelli adds, "We love working with her. She and her crew successfully built the mystery of Annalise and mood of the video with slow-motion and artsy b-roll."
While the video features a performance from the duo and their band, it also focuses on Annalise (or the memories of), a majestic white horse, and the place she left behind. Kelli relates her favorite part of the shoot and video: "Having our close friends and their beautiful daughter be a part of this video made it really special for us. [And my favorite part of the video is] where Annalise (Julia) is swinging in the barn and vanishes."
And the beautiful white horse featured in the video? Swearingen notes, "Their big white horse, Marco, who is featured in the video, would follow everyone around and even managed to sneak up behind us once in a while!"
The Daily Country - 6/13/2017
CD review by Colin Ward
Swearingen and Kelli are about to release their second CD, “the marrying kind”, four years after their self-titled debut album. It’s been a long time coming and represents a lot of hard work and creativity.
Jayne Kelli and AJ Swearingen met in St. Petersburg eight years ago and soon formed the duo that they named Swearingen and Kelli. After years of playing solo, there was unmistakable synergy when they sang together. Since then they have matured into one of the best musical acts in North America. They have toured all over the USA and Canada to bring their music to sold-out audiences in theaters and listening rooms. They also have played their songs on stages with a full symphony orchestra as their backing “band”. So it is no surprise that their long awaited new CD is outstanding.
There are twelve beautifully crafted songs on “the marrying kind”. The songs are all original with roughly half written by Kelli and half by Swearingen and at least one written together. The genre is folk with a bit of country stirred in – Americana perhaps. Swearingen and Kelli is heavily influenced by the folk artists of the seventies, plus they have some similarities to more current artists like The Civil Wars or Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Both are incredible vocalists with voices that can move from soft and sweet to edgy all in the same song. A huge benefit of a duo is the ability to add the harmonies which are missing from a solo performance. Both Jayne and AJ sing perfect harmonies in a class with Simon and Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers. AJ is also an excellent guitarist and plays really interesting lap steel guitar licks on almost every song. Add Jayne’s smooth acoustic guitar and piano skills and you have dynamite.
The CD opens with the title song, a piano-based ballad that describes an internal debate that many will relate to – am I “the marrying kind”? (the answer evidently was yes, since Swearingen and Kelli were married three years ago). The song is timeless and would be a fit in numerous modern TV shows. Then they switch gears and perform an upbeat wistful song about “Annalise”, sounding like a slightly countrified Simon and Garfunkel. “Don’t tell me that she’s gone” by AJ has an island feel – not reggae but perhaps calypso. Lyrically, the album is heavily slanted towards introspection and relationships, past and present. A couple of songs however stray into different territory – “Let Your Freedom Ring” is one of those - a haunting, swampy, reverb-drenched sound with lyrics that stir the imagination. “I’ve grown tired of all these small town politics” is the first line of “Satellite Friends”, an ode to moving away and finding a place to be yourself when you no longer have anything to say to your satellite friends. Every song on the CD can stand firmly on its own. There are no fillers or B-sides here.
“The marrying kind” was lovingly and painstakingly recorded and produced by Swearingen and Kelli in their own studio. There is a lot of space behind the vocals most of the time, allowing their solo and harmony voices to shine through…..until all of a sudden you are blindsided by a perfect guitar solo or lick! The melodies and arrangements are all catchy and fresh and they will stick in your head long after you have listened to the recordings.
- July / August 2017