Amy Stroup has a silky, captivating voice that has served as the soundtrack for over 400 film and television spots. With the retro-inspired sound of her band Sugar & The Hi Lows, Stroup’s music has been the backdrop to love stories (for instance, a 2014 Zales commercial) and earned her and bandmate Trent Dabbs a place on stage with artists like Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton, and Kings of Leon.
Stroup is on the verge of releasing her latest solo project Helen of Memphis on Aug. 10, and her newest single “Stare” is premiering exclusively on Billboard today (June 15).
With “Stare,” Stroup crafts the story of the enchanting moment when two people lock eyes, accompanied by a grooving beat. By day, she co-runs the Nashville design firm Milkglass Creative and knows the importance of something (or in this case, someone) catching your attention. She likens the feeling to the sweetness of honey throughout the song’s rhythmic chorus. “When you’re staring at me, you don’t even know it’s honey,” Stroup sings. The singer explains how nothing compares to good ol’ eye contact when it’s desired. “‘Stare’ is about the internal gravity you feel with no words exchanged, just eye contact from the person that gives you good feels,” she tells Billboard.
“I wanted to write a song that acknowledged — in our modern screen-filled world — that there is still nothing like getting eye contact back from the person. When you are really seen by someone, it’s a powerful thing.”
“Stare” is the second single from Helen of Memphis. The new song preserves elements of its predecessor “Magic” in terms of its anthemic sound and well-curated syncopation. Between the two singles, the artist’s masterful wordplay also remains intact. “Sonically, I wanted it to be like a cousin to ‘Magic’ on the album; confident, interesting, and a little messed up but on the beat,” Stroup says.
Confidence shines through on “Stare,” as it will on the singer’s upcoming full-length album. Named after the female-run clothing store that her late grandmother frequently shopped at, Helen of Memphis is inspired by the feeling Stroup gets when she puts on one of her inherited vintage coats and furs. “[I wanted] to make an album that you could listen to and step into your own confidence.”