This review was originally published on the Indie Voice blog.
Alice Wallace is set to debut her latest album, Memories, Music & Pride when she brings her SoCal Americana music to one of Hollywood's premier venues, The Hotel Cafe' on Friday, October 9.
Already recognized by the Orange County Music Awards (OCMA) with nominations for best country/americana and best live band, Wallace's latest release should cement this rising star's place as one of the best Americana performers in America, right next to Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin and Honeyhoney.
Co-produced by Kirsten Proffit of CALICO the Band and Steve Berns (who produced CALICO's debut album), and released on California Country Records, a label created by Proffit and her CALICO co-founder Manda Mosher, Memories, Music & Pride is the perfect marriage between the classic and future sounds of Americana music. In addition to co-producing the album, Proffit and CALICO bandmate Aubrey Richmond also provide backing vocals on the album.
According to Wallace, “This record is more cohesive, as far as style is concerned,” she says. “I like blues, I like folk, I like country. This one still touches on all of those. But with this album I feel like I was trying to bridge the gap between my influences in old-time country with newer artists like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell, whose albums have opened my eyes to what modern country can be.” Wallace's previous releases include 2011's Sweet Madness and 2013's A Thousand Miles From Home.
All of the 11 tracks on the CD are originals, with the exception of Wallace's cover of the classic 1935 Patsy Montana hit "I Want to be a Cowboy's Sweetheart." Montana was the first major female country and western solo singing star, and Wallace, who took up yodeling after hearing Jewel talk about the old country singing style on her early records, had to reach back to the style of such earlier yodeling recording artists as Montana, Jimmie Rodgers, and Slim Whitman for her interpretation of the tune. “I’ve never done anything in the style of Patsy Montana, and I was trying to make it true to the original in a way.”
Every track is stunning, with Wallace's amazing vocals bringing life to her thought-provoking lyrics and melodies. Everything you like about Americana music is there - the emotions, the vocal range and the steel guitar combine to create songs that are instantly memorable and reach deep inside the listener to connect on a deeper level than most music being produced today.
Two songs that stand out are "Leave" and "If I Didn't Win." You can literally feel the pain and the joy in these songs, with universal themes of loneliness, love and struggle. Not only are they great songs to listen to, but they are also the perfect soundtrack for dancing.
Among the amazing musicians that play on the record are jazz-schooled guitarist Tom Bremer, who has worked with Wallace for the past five years; drummer Josh Huppert, another longtime band mate; multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Long, now the pedal steel player in Sam Outlaw’s touring group; and bassist Robert Bowman. Special guests on the album include Ted Russell Kamp, a well-known Los Angeles solo artist who plays with Shooter Jennings’ band and is a frequent guest player with CALICO, who contributes upright bass on the track “Leave."
Wallace, who was born in Los Angeles and raised in St. Cloud, Florida, began playing guitar at the age of 10 but didn't truly devote her time to music until she was 15. Over the years, she absorbed a variety of influences, from her parents' favorites like Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris to ‘80s and ‘90s country performers like Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, and Mary Chapin Carpenter and singer-songwriters like Jewel, Alanis Morisette and Sarah McLachlan.
It was these songwriters that brought Wallace back to music: “That’s why I picked up the guitar again and made a more serious attempt at playing and writing songs – I was so inspired by hearing female artists on the radio.”
Wallace and her family left Florida in 2008 and relocated to Fullerton, California. By 2013, Wallace was doing music full-time, traveling across the country on the strength of her first two albums, and gathering material for what became Memories, Music & Pride.
It should come as no surprise that “A Traveling Song” (Track 8) was inspired by some of those chance companions on the American byways. “I’ve spent the last two years getting used to traveling – usually by myself,” Wallace says. “It’s definitely been a personal learning experience, dealing with being alone a lot, and the songs reflect that.” In addition, some of the album’s most intimate songs – like “Rough Around the Edges” and “Ohio Boy” – are drawn from relationships that developed on the road. Wallace continues, “Traveling full-time does not lend itself well to romantic relationships; the few that I’ve had have been temporary, and usually they end badly. They make for good songwriting material, but I definitely look back and say, ‘All right, Alice, you should have seen that coming.’”
For more on this amazing artist, check out her website and Facebook page, follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to her YouTube channel. And if you're lucky enough to be in Los Angeles, don't miss her release show at the Hotel Cafe' on October 9.