There’s not as much guitar-driven hard rock as there should be in the mainstream these days, but if critically acclaimed actress-singer-songwriter Kari Wahlgren has her way, this isn’t going to remain the case for very long. In her cover of “Mad About You,” she teams up with the iconic Nikki Stringfield in a quest to resurrect the passionate pulse of riff-rock in its heaviest form, and although I’m partial to the Slaughter version of this song, this isn’t a conventional rock cover by any means. This is about emphasizing muscle and melodicism on the same stage, and the players aren’t giving us anything less than a stadium-shaking performance.
Wahlgren is one of the few artists in her genre to reject the retro framework of 70s and 80s metal outright with her sound in favor of utilizing something a little more streamlined – if not still a very overdrive-based concept. She isn’t trying to rework the sounds of her influences into a contemporary format; if anything, I think her cover of this song showcases how much of her style is rooted in a post-90s rock ethos a lot of other songwriters have abandoned in recent years. “Mad About You” never feels like a cover, which is half the reason it stings as much as the original does.
You can’t listen to a track like this one without thinking of the relentless vocal assault Mia Zapata was revered for in her short time in the spotlight, but I’m hesitant to call Wahlgren a grungy singer. She’s so controlled in her execution, and more melodic than PNW punks ever could be, and yet there’s a rebel yell buried within every verse she sings in this single that speaks to her wild side. It’s a side of her sound I want to hear more of, and it’s a major point of interest in this release.
I just got turned on to Kari Wahlgren’s music recently, but this is perhaps the most impressive use of her voice that I’ve come across thus far. In the past few years, rock has seen a collective commercial downturn that was neither expected nor welcomed by its longtime supporters, but the energy players like Wahlgren bring to the table is exactly what the genre needs to make a proper comeback. This is a fearless, angst-ridden cover of “Mad About You” that you need to hear for yourself this summer, and I don’t believe I’ll be the last critic to declare as much.