Mary Jane Alm has a sweet spirit. When I spoke with her about her new album, “Me and The Wild Blue”, she was flustered and excited, but she also appeared to be in a satisfied, blissful place: very happy with the way her new record turned out. All the final planning pieces for the release are coming together, and she’s working through what her friend referred to as her “Cinderella week” – I could see the joy all over her face, and you know what?
Mary Jane (MJ) is on Reverb nation. Within 24 hours of having her new music posted, she went from no. 87 to no. 22 on the Minneapolis country chart, and eventually went to no. 4. Pretty awesome for sure, but what really got me pumped was her standing on the national Reverb Nation Hot Country Chart… she’s at no.2!
Friends helped MJ at nearly every level of the project. From production, engineering, and insert jacket design to photography, musicianship, and even social media stuff, she gives her friends a lot of credit. She had a huge smile on her face as she shared how the puzzle came together, piece by piece and all the great people that were involved (a subject for another time or a personal conversation with MJ – you should ask her about it).
For this project, MJ decided that she was going to identify herself as singer first and a songwriter second. She was initially concerned that writing enough material to fill a full length release would take more time than she had. Producer Steve Hodge made the case that singers often include other songwriters’ material on their projects anyhow. And so they decided together that this would be their approach: 14 tracks, 5 written by MJ, 9 written by friends and other artists. Friends Kevin Bowe and Pamela McNeil both contribute material, and MJ mentioned a love for Joni Mitchell that made its way into the project as well. See the City Pages write up by IPR graduate Youa Vang.
For MJ, the new recording’s uniqueness is centered on her growth as an artist. In 1985, when “Prisoner of the Heart” was released, MJ’s Primary focus was genre specific to country. At the time, she felt as if she needed to play to the market. For the new project, however, MJ wanted to draw on many influences: country, rock, folk, pop, and Jazz. Her rich career as a vocalist has had her singing in just about every genre imaginable, and she feels this has helped define her as an artist.
Though this album is a significant departure from her last effort, MJ feels it represents who she is as an artist better than anything she has done in the past. “I would like people to feel the love… the passion that went into making the record.” She is more confident in her artistic identity than ever before; she feels more like a complete artist now than at any other point in her career. The best part of this entire experience for her is that she got to do the record of her dreams. And this speaks clearly about her desire to record something that not only resonates with her fans, but something that is true to who she is. After all, the best records are always those that hold an artist’s natural identity in high esteem. It’s pretty hard to create anything of noteworthy reputation when you’re stuck trying to figure out what the market will embrace as the flavor of the week; there are way too many “artists” trying to do this already. And “Me and The Wild Blue” represents MJ from a very authentic place. Please join me in sharing in Mary Jane’s incredible sense of joy for her new release: “Me and The Wild Blue”.
Mary Jane Alm’s “Me and the Wild Blue” CD release party will take place this Friday, August 12th, 8pm at The Loring Theatre. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door. MJ wanted all of us to know if they’re ordered online, in advance, we can save $5.00.