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The music has returned for Mary Prankster

Mary Prankster will perform at the Birchmere this week. (Wenona Daniel-Rollins)

Mary Prankster doesn’t sit down to write songs. Instead, the songs come to her — populating in her mind out of thin air, sometimes fully formed, sometimes as fragments.

“It’s less like songwriting and it’s more like song listening,” says the 44-year-old musician, who found regional fame as a cheeky indie rocker on the Baltimore music scene in the late ’90s and early 2000s. “It’s like having a radio station [in your head] and there’s always tunes.”

Around 2005, the music in her head stopped, so she retired the Mary Prankster moniker. “When it’s your dream job,” she says, “when it’s the thing that you can’t even believe that you get to do but you’re, like, empty, there’s this kind of cold terror in your stomach, like, I don’t even know what I can do.”

She moved to New York and did voice-over work for TV commercials and English as a second language audio classes. She went back to school and eventually settled in New England.

A decade passed and the songs slowly started coming back.

“I noticed over time, too, the songs sort of build up and they seem to get more insistent,” Prankster says. “It’d be in a conversation, and it was almost deafening. After a while, I needed to relieve this pressure.”

She visited Baltimore for a wedding in 2016 and reconnected with Steve Wright, who helped produce her first two records, “Blue Skies Over Dundalk” and “Roulette Girl.” They agreed to work together on her comeback record, “Thickly Settled,” which dropped this month.

Like Prankster’s past albums, the songs run the gamut, genre-wise, but this one was even harder to pin down. As she told Wright before recording: “I need a band that can rock as hard as ‘Appetite for Destruction’ era Guns N’ Roses, then turn on a dime and play country and Motown in the same song, and then do ’30s jazz.”

It’s like tuning into the radio station in Prankster’s mind. Lucky for us, the songs are coming in loud and clear.

Show: Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $25.