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Mary Karlzen

The Wanderlust Diaries – 2006 (Dualtone)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Mary Karlzen

With 1995's wonderful "Yelling at Mary," Mary Karlzen drew comparisons to Sheryl Crow and announced herself as a major new roots-rock talent, but after that auspicious intro, she faded from view. A 2000 album failed to return her to the limelight, and now she returns with an outstanding album that picks up where "Yelling at Mary" left off.

The lyrics of "Jump" advocate overcoming fear and living life to the fullest, and the production perfectly matches the message, at first restrained and then building steadily to a crescendo. "Friends Along the Way" is a complex bundle of emotions. Karlzen expresses some frustration at radio for giving her the cold shoulder in the mid-nineties, but ultimately, she counts her blessings: "You sat through some stupid song, you listened, you even sang along," she sings, with gratitude for her fans.

Karlzen also bookends the album with two pretty piano ballads, covers Tom Waits' "Heart of Saturday Night" and The Replacements' "Skyway" and rocks out on "Oh My." Karlzen's lyrics and girlish voice perfectly capture the sense of wonder that's so elusive in day-to-day life. It's great to finally have some new music from this underappreciated talent.