It's not often that the words wholesome and innovative can be used together to describe an artist, but such is the case with Mean Mary. Once again, she emerges with an album that takes the listener straight into a magical world of stories and sounds. Portrait of a Woman is not a paint-by-numbers studio recording but an intricate creation that seems to come more alive with each listen. Mary has her hands in every aspect of the album from producing to writing to performing but she is also joined by a talented group of folks that includes her family. Her brother, Frank James, brings extra fun to the songs with his baritone voice and unique 12-string guitar playing. Her mother, Jean James, co-writes on many of the songs. Since Mary and Jean are both award-winning novelists, it's no wonder that this album is full of humor and plot twists. The lyrics and tunes seamlessly intertwine around Mary's scintillating instrumentation on banjo, guitar, and violin, but it's Mary's electrifying voice that takes you flying past the "Bridge Out" sign straight into "No Man's Land" and wishing you could watch the "Clouds Roll By" forever.