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Standout Track: No. 3, “Graphology,” starts out with atmospheric guitar and a drum machine and ends in clanging guitars and unidentifiable percussion. Over the growing din, songwriter Olivia Mancini, 30, sweetly sings book titles: “Fifty Years of Fender, Merriam Webster, 1776, Maltese Falcon, Cooking Italian, Great Houses of the Hudson River Valley.”

Musical Motivation: “I was standing in front of my bookshelf strumming these chords and putting together a song, and I started reading some of the book titles,” says Mancini, who lives in Logan Circle. “I was embarrassed by how many I hadn’t read.” Writing the song inspired Mancini to crack open a few of the neglected volumes, but not Great Houses of the Hudson River Valley. That book came with the Reporter of the Month award she won while working at the Poughkeepsie Chronicle. “They hand me that book, and I think, ‘Thanks. You guys published that book. How about a gift certificate or a bonus or something? I think…I never read it out of protest.”

Random Sampling: Electronic beats usually send Mancini’s drummer Randy Scope, 38, into a protesting mood, too, but they seemed right in this case. “I didn’t want to step on what Olivia was doing in the beginning,” he says. “So I came up with the idea of having live drums come in halfway through.” Live audiences, however, have only a 50–50 chance of hearing Scope’s brainstorm, Mancini says. “The sampler is finicky…Randy has had it since 1992, and it comes and goes as it pleases.”

Olivia Mancini plays Dec. 10 at the Hard Rock Cafe.