That's Mary Alice Wood.
For the last twelve years, Wood has won over listeners both here and abroad with her bittersweet and self-penned valentines to love, loss and life on St. Louis' south side. Like a box of savory chocolates, her songs come in a variety of flavors: from delectable power pop; to brooding rocker with punch; to spare ballads that ache and shimmering folk. Swirls of country also sweeten the mix.
These styles, however, are unified by Wood's songwriting sensibility - which is lyrically straightforward and pop savvy. Wood's strong writing won her two consecutive Riverfront Times/St. Louis Area music Awards ("Slammies" for short) as 1994's and '95's Best Local Songwriter. Her former band, sugarstickygirl, also won the 1997 Virginia Slim's Woman Thing Music Contest.
Wood's musical career has taken a number of roads - sometimes all at once. She got her start as guitarist and vocalist for St. Louis' The Belinda Chaire, where her melodic gift and harmonies played well against the abrasive guitar attack and brutally honest country rock of E.J. Fitch.
Wood released this eponymous solo cassette of her acoustic songs in 1993 (re-released in 2001 on CD), which garnered raves from local music critics. Recorded completely live, it brings the listener into what feels like Wood's living room. The casual nature of the arrangement harks back to the old-time jams Wood's been involved in for years. The release also impressed bookers at London's Mean Fiddler Club, who gave her a slot during her stay in London in the fall of 1994.
In addition to playing with sugarstickygirl, in 1996, Wood formed the ad hoc acoustic country combo, The Cheyenne Social Club. The group was comprised of up to eight members and featured songwriter/guitarist Fitch (Treeweasels/Belinda Chaire), guitarist John Horton (Rockhouse Ramblers), songwriter/mandolinist Chris Grabau (Stillwater/solo), bassist John O'Brien (Stillwater/Jenny Kavanaugh), and guitarist Scott Roever (EJ Quit/November 9th). The group regularly included invited guests, living up to its name as a social club.
In the winter of 1996, Wood introduced sugarstickygirl's second lineup. With her old cohort Fitch, the two returned to their roots. Possessing an "opposites attract" energy while playing together, they collaborated on much of the material, playing off their stylistic differences.
Since the demise of sugarstickygirl in 1998, Wood has left her hometown and is now based in Nashville. Being backed by some of the most in-demand players in the Americana genre, she continues to win fans not only from music lovers but musicians alike. Wood tours the southeast regularly and gets back to St. Louis a few times a year. She continues to write new material - laced with the influences of old time, roots, pop and honkytonk - flavors diverse, yet deliciously homemade tasting.
Stop and savor Mary Alice Wood's wry, tangy songs. And, like most everyone else, fall in love with this out-of-the-ordinary "ordinary girl."
Check out the artist's website:
1. The Spinning Song
2. At the Xing
3. In a Car
4. 1987 Blues
5. The Day I've Had
6. Sylvan Springs Waltz
9. Too Green (on the Other Side)
10. Tuesday Night Routine