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Mary Sue Englund - Free
By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

If you're looking for some fact-finding on Nashville-based, Mary Sue Englund, look no further than her Myspace web site.  For it’s there you find a clear and honest voice, one describing the ambition and drive she has for her music.

“I've been at this a while,” she tells. “It’s all I ever wanted to do. I’ve made my living making music--first in bars and restaurants doing solo gigs playing piano and guitar when I was barely old enough to drive, and then started my band in Minnesota several years ago, and did really well. We played everywhere for everyone and sold a ton of albums. I then made the move to Nashville, where I’ve just finished my third album, Free (Jane’s Parade Records), with the help of amazing writer and producer Kim McLean.”

With a stellar session band, including some of Nashville’s finest like Eddie Bayers and Brent Mason, Englund nails a varied and tight album. Perched, and comfortably so, between the grit and “hell yeah” energy of Gretchen Wilson and the secure determinism of, say, a Melissa Etheridge, Mary Sue delivers a confident outing. The album doesn’t shy or buck from her musical duties, or indeed, the offered perspectives.

On the first airing of this CD, I immediately made one observation: this lady has talent. And plenty of it. Englund can sing, not a screech, not a holler, and not a force-it-in-your-face-affair; rather, it’s a voice that rocks one minute and captivates with its probing intensity the next. At the coalface, many fans have left positive reviews at the album’s distributor, CD Baby. It’s not hard to hear why.

With the collaborative aid of pen-pushin’ mate and album producer, Kim McLean, the talented duo share six co-writes for the album. It becomes seven, if you include Lisa Brokop’s contribution on “You Oughta Be In Pictures”. Recent touring buddy, Pam Tillis, besides her harmony duties here, returns road favors with a co-write on album favorite “Stir It Up”. 

While Englund can rock and swagger with the best, with tracks like the guitar-fused “Greatest Show On Earth” and “Born To Run” proving the point, it’s in the more mellow moments her style and lyrics take real form and shape.

“Until I Believed It Too” is stark and honest. It’s an identifiable and haunting sting to any woman who’s suffered the shame and breached trust of a destructive and violent partner. The tune has a focus of domestic violence; a statistic that still shows up on police log sheets. Sadly.

Englund and McClean have written a crafted tune, one that spells out clearly the cycle that becomes a woman’s life in such circumstances: the seemingly loving husband, one who hides the violence behind closed doors, and a wife who hides her bruises behind makeup. It’s a cycle of marital convenience that finds its continuance in silence, fear and inequality. 

“I thought everything was fine 
I thought he was a perfect dream
He said he loved me more than life
He used to buy me pretty things
Sometimes he’d work so hard and
Sometimes I was in his way
But he kissed away the tears and
The bruises on my face…”

The tune stands powerful, aided with minimal accompaniment, save Englund’s vocal interpretation that doesn’t force the passion, but, rather, finds its strength in the story. 

“How the truth begged me not to leave it alone
Now it’s covered with roses and it’s carved out in stone
He sat there in church that day like he’d done nothing wrong
Sheriff, tell me that the devil gets his due
Tell me so I belief it too…”

“Until I Believe It Too” probably won’t find its way to radio. But it should. 

However, while programmers would struggle to format the tune into their tight 40 tune radio rotations, there are several on this album that would pose no problem. Cuts like the boppy “You Oughta Be In Pictures” and the infectious, hook-laden tale of across town love and loss, “When You’ve Lost Your Way Home,” and the closing cut, a band free-for-all, “Long Way Down”. 

What an exciting package this fiddling, guitar-slinger from Nashville is. Attractive, vibrant, and with a voice that peels paint in one tune, only to soothe a baby to sleep the next, Mary Sue Englund is a soon to be discovered talent – and you can take that to the bank. She plays, she sings, she writes, she delights and she does with power and persuasion.

Get the album.

Click on the picture above to order your copy now!

1: Greatest Show On Earth 
2: Born To Run 
3: Free 
4: Until I Believed It Too 
5: Wings 
6: You Oughta Be In Pictures 
7: Odds And Ends 

8: Stir It Up 

9: When You’ve Lost your Way Home 

10: Long Way Down

Related Links:
Official Site  

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Real People Reviews

Great Album...Great Album. Her whole soul is in everything she sings.
~ Geri

Loved the CD -- your review accurately describes her talent!!!  Saw her perform many times at music festivals in Minnesota - just knew she would surface at the professional level. Much better than a lot of the "canned corn" country music we get on the radio these days.
~ MSE Fan


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