CL Premiere: Swearingen and Kelli shares "Leaving Yourself" from new LP — read our Q&A

Self-produced LP from the Treasure Island duo is due on July 21.

click to enlarge Swearingen and Kelli - Donna Green
Donna Green
Swearingen and Kelli

Husband-and-wife duo Swearingen and Kelli is completely spilling the beans on a new song, "Leaving Yourself," where Jayne Kelli contemplates the possibility that she might not be able to work it out with the love of her life — AJ Swearingen.

"When we recorded this song, it wasn't hard to tap into the original emotion I felt when I wrote it," Kelli told CL. "It's that moment when you fear that something so right might not work out... and you go on imagining the worst."

The entirety of The Marrying Kind (due July 21) is a pretty transparent, Americana and country-folk flavored affair that leans on the sounds of Jackson Browne and Alison Krauss to explain the Treasure Island-based couple's approach to love, control, anger and everything in between.

CL caught up with the pair to talk about "Leaving Yourself," recording The Marrying Kind, the origins of their relationship and more. Check out our Q&A — plus a premiere of the song — below.

You’re both from up north. What brought you down here, and how did you meet (at Hideaway?)?

AJ: Growing up in the north I was very tired of the cold long winters. I had many shows canceled in the Philly area due to the weather. The move to Florida seemed like a great antidote.  And it was.

Jayne:  I had moved down right after graduating from Michigan State University with a good friend. We were also looking for a change of scenery.

AJ:  I heard about the Hideaway through a friend and I was invited to stop in and check it out. I loved it the first time I walked in. It was a few weeks after that that I met Jayne for the first time. She was recording her latest album at the studio in the back and hanging out on the writer's nights. 

Jayne:  John Kelly, the owner, gets the credit for introducing us!

When did you decide you could actually make music together? (Not easy for folk who aren’t even married like you are.)

Jayne:  When we first heard each other, we instantly had mutual respect (an important thing that keeps us working so well together in all aspects of the music business). I remember thinking... how is this guy not famous yet?

AJ:  It was not long after I gave her my solo album. I was scheduled to perform a show at the Hideaway. I asked her if she wanted to sing a tune with me. There was no rehearsal but I had an intuition that she just knew the songs. It was crazy-good, like we had been singing together for years.  I then helped produce and record a couple songs on her solo album and she sang harmony on my next album. The progression was so natural. We were both solo singers and writers and the duo thing was not at all on our radar.  I started playing lap steel in her band and singing harmony.  Neither of us wanted to play a show on our own without the other.  The duo was inevitable.

The song we’re premiering is actually about NOT being suitable for marriage (spoiler alert: you guys come around) — is this one of those songs Kelli got choked up on while recording?

Jayne: When we recorded this song, it wasn't hard to tap into the original emotion I felt when I wrote it. It's that moment when you fear that something so right might not work out... and you go on imagining the worst.

Did you record this at Hideaway? If not, will you please detail some of the production?  It’s a really clean record.

AJ: We recorded everything ourselves in our studio. I have been an audiophile engineer for many years. I love the recording process. We completely obsess over the sonics and our production details. We also played all the instruments, mixed and mastered the record. There are a lot of hats to wear when making a record. Jayne is also an amazing producer, so we make a great team in the studio. We are fans of those great 70s records. I used all analog gear in the signal chains to minimize that modern digital sound. We are hoping to release a short run on vinyl as well. I also played lots of lap steel on this record. I think our music just calls for it.  I used a vintage Rickenbacker on a couple songs to try for that David Lindley (Jackson Browne) sound.  He inspired me to play steel in the first place.

Would also like your ages for the record.

AJ and Jayne: We're 29 forever (no expiration dates).

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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