Sweet is an album of 14 original songs that cover the wide, sweet world of Americana roots music. Mean Mary’s reputation for fast instrumental skill on banjo, violin, and guitar is more than legendary, but her new album shows an added diversity in her playing. On the title track, Sweet (track 4), her banjo mimics a ukulele as she plays percussion simultaneously on the banjo head. That song resultantly becomes more island than bluegrass, while the following track, Voice from a Dream (track 5), an Asian meets Celtic violin instrumental, speaks of mystery and longing in languid long bow strokes and haunting melody. On the vocal side she flows from husky folk/rock songs, like Born to Be That Woman (track 2), to clear bluegrass twang on Trumbull County Antique Tractor Show (track 3). Throughout the album her voice dances from lows to highs, from hot to cold, and from sultry to girl-next-door. The songs (some of which she co-wrote with her mom, author, Jean James) are stories of joy and sweetness – with a bit of “mean” thrown in for good measure.
Also debuting in 2016 is Mary's new novel, Methinks I See Thee, Jane – co-written with her mother, Jean James, a follow-up to their award-wining novel, Wherefore Art Thou, Jane?.