How OC's Alice Wallace Thrives in a Male-Dominated Country Market

How OC's Alice Wallace Thrives in a Male-Dominated Country Market
Carrie Jaymes

Sitting in a café in downtown Santa Ana, country songstress Alice Wallace muses about her new album, Memories, Music & Pride. She's halfway through a comment on the inspiration for her new material, when a man from a nearby table points to his smart phone and asks, "Excuse me, but is this you?" It was indeed Wallace, in a video from her recent television appearance on KCAL 9 CBS Los Angeles.

She had risen in the wee hours of the morning to perform her album's lead track "I Just Don't Care Anymore" for the station's morning show, and the video had surfaced on social media. The man in the café was undeniably smitten, commenting several times about what a small world it was. Wallace spoke to him with the same sincerity that shines through her music, and invited him to the album release party at Hotel Café in Los Angeles on Friday, October 9. The exchange was sweet, and a likely indicator of what's to come for the Fullerton-based musician.

Memories, Music & Pride is Wallace's third effort, and the subject matter for the eleven-track album largely reflects her life on the road. She racked up more than 200 gigs over the last year alone, the majority of which were solo appearances. Her stints in venues from Austin to Nashville inspired several songs, including the standout track "Traveling Song" which details her experience on busses and planes with folks of opposite demeanors. Another resonating track based on touring is "Luck Texas," inspired by a trip Wallace took with her band to Willie Nelson's current hometown.

"I've spent the last two years touring constantly, on the road playing shows almost every night of the week. That kind of experience just adds so much, and I feel like it came through on the record," Wallace shares. "I've also been influenced from some of the more modern country artists like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell, people who are really redefining country music."

Though this is Wallace's third album, it's the first that she's recorded with a label. She aligned with California Country Records, a Los Angeles-based label owned and operated by members of the all-female Americana/country act Calico. Wallace feels a particular kinship with her label mates, with singer Kirsten Proffit stepping into a production role and select members aiding with backing vocals. Calico also took Wallace under their wing for a showcase during the Americana Music Awards in Nashville, where she was able to perform a handful of gigs leading up to the event.

"It's been nice to work with other women who are working hard in this industry, considering there are so many men," Wallace says. "The guys are great but sometimes you feel a little outnumbered. [The women] at California Country have been at this for years, and they've helped me get a lot of exposure for this album."

Judging by her run-in at the café, her exposure on the rise. The album has spawned her upcoming Hotel Café release show (which will include her full band and a guest performance by her label mates, Calico), and gigs along the coast and back down to Texas.

Memories, Music & Pride is a solid listen from beginning to end, winding through quick, two-step friendly rompers, introspective road tunes, and tenderhearted ballads. Wallace gives a nod to her trademark yodel, but primarily taps into a style that pays homage to classic artists while keeping one foot firmly planted in the future of Americana and country music.

"I feel like these songs are strong. Hopefully they make their way out there, and it's encouraging that things already going well," Wallace says. "This album, it sums up the last couple of years of my life. I've been making memories, music, and pride."

Alice Wallace performs at The Hotel Café, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 461-2040, www.hotelcafe.com, Friday, October 9, doors at 7 p.m., $10. 21+ For more information on Alice Wallace visit www.alicewallacemusic.com

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See also: The 50 Best Things About the OC Music Scene The 50 Worst Things About the OC Music Scene The 25 Greatest OC Bands of All Time: The Complete List

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