Macie Stewart


Mouth Full of Glass is the debut album by Chicago-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Macie Stewart (pronouns: she/her/they/them). Written and recorded while finding solace and strength in solitude, Mouth Full of Glass features eight lushly arranged songs that search for the meaning of self within and without partnership. The record explores loneliness as well as the growth and beauty that blooms from within it - through creating it, Stewart reassesses her own relationships in order to communicate with a singular voice.

Stewart began her musical career at the age of 3. Learning piano while she learned to talk, she discovered two foundational modes of communication at once. As the daughter of a career musician (pianist Sami Scot), Stewart was encouraged to explore the piano and violin, and she became proficient on both instruments. After helping to found the Chicago bands Kids These Days and Marrow, Stewart broadened her interests and spent time in the avant-garde jazz scene, performing regularly at Chicago institutions Constellation and The Hungry Brain. It was in that scene Stewart distinguished herself as a go-to collaborator, co-founding the band OHMME (with Sima Cunningham) and performing and improvising with Ken Vandermark’s Marker ensemble, the improvised act The Few (with guitar player Steve Marquette and bassist Charlie Kirchen) and the violin/cello duo Macie Stewart & Lia Kohl. Stewart has also spent years working as a string arranger, drawing on her varied background in classical, jazz, and Irish folk music to create unique arrangements for artists such as the band Whitney, SZA, V.V. Lightbody, Knox Fortune, and many others.

“I have always been drawn to working in partnership. My creative world thrives when I am able to glance inside someone else’s brain and lock into a rhythm with them,” Stewart says. Years of collaborating helped her develop the musical communication skills she needed to craft a project of her own. At a certain point Stewart realized, “I didn’t know who I was or what I sounded like as an individual. I was floating aimlessly and feeling like so many of my choices weren’t made for myself, but rather for the people with whom I shared a partnership.” She started writing music for Mouth Full of Glass about a year before quarantine and finished it during the first months of the stay-at-home orders. “While I don’t consider this album a ‘quarantine record,’ finishing it during that time was important because I had to spend the most time with the person I had been avoiding: myself.”

Mouth Full of Glass opens with the bright acoustic flourishes of “Finally.” Confronting herself from the albums’ very first lines, Stewart sings “Finally, finally, finally I learn to tell the truth to myself” as intricate layers of strings and synthesizers cascade, showcasing Stewart’s effortless composition and arrangement skills. On the next track, “Garter Snake,” Sen Morimoto’s saxophone hovers alongside finger-picked guitar, organ and violins as Stewart’s lofty vocal reflects on self-imposed solitude, and the potentially paralyzing nature of one’s own choices. “I am addicted to indecision” Stewart sings. The alternately spelled title track “Mouthful of Glass” draws out long syllables of dulcet vocal harmonies over swirls of keyboards and strings. Written about a dream, the track feels as though you’re witnessing the inner workings of Stewart’s mind. The final track, “Wash It Away” (featuring expertly crafted horn arrangements from Ayanna Woods), does just what the title suggests—clearing the slate and encouraging another listen with fresh perspective. A new start.

Stewart explains, “Life is a perpetual discovery of your own habits and perceptions. This record is about digging into and embracing those less favorable parts of yourself in order to shed them. The hope is always to find the most authentic self while honoring who you once were, and who you could be. You are the person who knows that best, as long as you grant yourself the privilege.”

(Photo by Ash Dye)