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The Wanderlust Diaries

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Album Review

Eclectic enough to cover both Tom Waits ("Heart of a Saturday Night") and Paul Westerberg (the touching "Skyway" has never sounded more lovely) without feeling forced, Mary Karlzen keeps both feet firmly in the folk-rock Americana that has always defined her work. Her girlish voice shifts between Juliana Hatfield, Beth Orton and Jewel, finding the innocence and longing in personal songs that are almost always sung in the first person. She's a singer/songwriter in the tradition of John Hiatt and early Joni Mitchell, serious and smart with an unerring eye for detail in her lyrics. Wanderlust Diaries is bookended by stripped-down tunes where Karlzen is joined only by John Deaderick's spartan piano. But the disc is dominated by strummy band tracks played with finesse by, among others, E Street Band bassist Garry Talent and ex-Wilco drummer Ken Coomer. Karlzen's acoustic guitar focuses the sound, and producer/multi-instrumentalist Jansen Press adds just enough instruments and frills to underscore the singer's lyrics without ever overwhelming them. "Stupid or Something" is a terrific example of a song that takes flight with a folk-rock arrangement that leaps out of the speakers. Percussion and theatrical strings are added for drama on "Sixteen," a story-song that starts as a fond reminiscence of a summer but turns terribly dark in its final verse. It's a textbook example of what Karlzen does best as this album shifts from one highlight to the next on a journey through a scrapbook life, some of which might be based on personal experience. On her fourth release, all for different labels, Karlzen has delivered a gem that, in a perfect world, would generate a major Americana buzz.

Customer Reviews

She continues to captivate me....

Mary Karlzen continues to captivate me.... I just cannot get some of her songs out of my head or out of my heart. Straightaway, I love her music. You will find that out reading my review. Mary Karlzen is not only a talented musician but, an extremely accomplished song writer. Her songs are well constructed points of life. She can take normal daily situations and give you a new way to look at them. I can't say enough about "Straws". It's my favoriate song on this album and could be solid gold if given the air play it deserves. "The Wanderlust Diaries" is a fantastic listen. Give Mary Karlzen a chance and her music will captivate you, just as it has done me. Put simply I love her music, 'Nuf Said!

Wanderlust Diaries

Another great album by Mary....

Amazing CD and even better live

I saw Mary live for the first time recently and was blown away. She and her band sounded fantastic. I couldn't wait to get this CD and played it in the car home from the concert. It's been playing in the car ever since. The range and variety of music on the CD keeps it fresh. Her abilities as a singer/songwriter are refreshing in what has become a cookie-cutter industry. It is a shame there aren't more true musicians like Mary getting more exposure. The public should have the opportunity to hear this type of music more often. This CD is amazing.


Born: 1970 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

An early obsession with '80s songwriters such as Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello, coupled with mastery of her brother's guitar at the age of 14, prepared Mary Karlzen for her later life as an intellectual folk-popster. Born and raised in Chicago, Karlzen moved to Florida to attend college, but ended up working in a record store. She sang in several bands, and recorded a few songs with a local friend, Mark Scandariato. The Miami label Y&T jumped on the demos and released her self-titled album...
Full Bio
The Wanderlust Diaries, Mary Karlzen
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Customer Ratings