I've seen the local pop band Love Lies Dreaming only twice: once in a quiet, living-room-like setting in the basement of the Michigan League on a wintry Saturday night in front of a couple dozen friends, and once at Leopold Bros. Brewery on a chilly Wednesday evening in March, with a crowd of beer drinkers, lots of smoke, and a PA system designed to bounce the sound off the surface of the moon. Valuable real estate and great live rock 'n' roll gigs have one prerequisite in common: location, location, location. Depending on where you catch Love Lies Dreaming, the band can sound like one of the best new pop-folk-rock bands to emerge from the city in years or like just another invisible band turned up way too loud with nothing going on.

Love Lies Dreaming is the former. Fronted by the husband-and-wife singer-songwriter team of rhythm guitarist Andrew McFinton and cellist Jennifer McFinton, this quintet sounds like a sound track to a Zen-inspired love affair. The two McFintons are the Everly Brothers meet 10,000 Maniacs, Crosby Stills & Nash without Crosby, or a downsized version of Fleetwood Mac.

The music is low key, melodic and subtle, romantic and emotional. Andrew has the higher vocal range and Jennifer the lower, so when the two blend their voices — which is most of the time — the mix is sad and sweet and catchy. When you toss in drummer Steve Petrinko (who occasionally adds some weird Maureen Tucker-Velvet Underground offbeats) with the steady and jazzy rock beat of bassist Lorin Burgess, the result is folk-rock with an almost religious quirkiness that doubles as catchy pop.

The original songs cover the usual topics: Do you love me, I love you, The world is a wonderful place, I don't feel too happy today. On paper it sounds tame. But the McFintons are so sincere and seem so happy to be together onstage that their voices lure you into the world of their lyrics.

Such subtle art is best caught in a living room with a handful of friends, but that's not the idea behind a rock 'n' roll band. You want a big stage, nice PA, stage lights, and the rest. It's hard translating something so personal to a large audience. With Love Lies Dreaming, you can pick up their stunning debut CD, Phoenix, which features eleven cool original songs with great McFinton vocal mixes, haunting cello hooks, and spacey John Cale-inspired solos from guitarist Brian Wrenn, and enjoy it at home. Or — with apologies to Leopold Bros., which has lots of other cool bands gracing its stage that are more at home in that setting — you can catch the band on Saturday, July 27, at the homey Vinyl Joe's Music Cafe in Ypsilanti. Location, location, location.