After graduating from Missouri State University with a master’s in music in 1995, the Springfield songwriter began experimenting with improvisational violin and cello before going on to cut her teeth as a touring musician in the bluegrass family band Big Smith and eventually collaborating with the legendary Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

Today, on the heels of releasing her third solo record, Circles, Molly’s songs are a pastiche of her life experiences and musical journey.

“I’ve played fiddle in bluegrass and country bands for fifteen to twenty years,” she says. “I’m never going to not have that roots influence, even though I stray pretty far on my new album, you’ll still hear those Americana, folk elements.”

Since embarking on her solo career, her music has been markedly different from the country and bluegrass bands she played in. Her previous two albums—Nightbirds and Human—focused on the cello and violin looping that she could reproduce by herself in a live setting. While the style produced beautiful results, it soon became limiting to Molly.

Over the past few years, the project has expanded to include fellow Springfield musicians Zach Harrison on guitar, Kyle Day on bass, and Danny Carroll on drums. The results have been rewarding. Now that she can create songs with bridges, choruses, and key changes, her music has begun to flourish, and Circles is the culmination of her newfound sound. Molly continually pushes herself to chart new territories. Finding ways to do that, she says, is easier with a vibrant music community.

“To me, the biggest source of inspiration is listening to other people play music. It helps you get out of your own head and change something about your songwriting you’ve never tried before,” she says. “I am incredibly proud of Missouri’s music scene. Over the years, I’ve met so many amazingly talented bands. That has a profound effect on my songwriting and playing.”

That inspiration is most apparent on her new album. Molly has been inspired lyrically by her fellow female songwriters in the Show-Me State. Hearing a younger generation of musicians speak to their own experiences inspired the #MeToo-era lead-off track “Hey Mama,” and the most introspective cut, “White Noise,” explores themes of self-doubt over a sonic wash of looped cello, driving bass, and ecstatic guitar. On a more joyful note, “Winterfire” is a playful ode to love, Ozark summers, and Midwest winters.

“I wanted to be lighthearted,” she says. “It’s about that fickle heart of love. It’s about summer love, and I do love summer. I associate summer with all these beautiful things. Winter is always hard, but it’s easier with someone next to you.”

At the end of the day, Molly’s art is the most important thing.