Blues Bytes


July 2008

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Carolyn Wonderland
Miss Understood
Bismeaux Records

Carolyn Wonderland

Carolyn Wonderland has been a part of the Texas music scene since the ’90s. She was first inspired to take the stage as a teenager after seeing Little Screamin’ Kenny and the Sideliners at Fitzgerald’s in Houston. Soon, she was playing gigs at the club, wowing audiences with her big-as-Texas vocals (often compared to Janis Joplin’s) and her skill at a multitude of instruments, most notably guitar. Though she’s not made a huge impact nationally, she’s drawn the attention of artists like Bob Dylan, and some of her songs have appeared on TV, including the series Homicide. After making her start in Houston, where the Houston Press awarded her best female vocalist for eight consecutive years, she moved to Austin several years ago to take advantage of the burgeoning music scene.

Wonderland’s latest release, Miss Understood (Bismeaux Records), was produced by Asleep At The Wheel’s Ray Benson, another admirer. Most of her previous albums have pretty much focused on her blues-rock leanings with a few R&B tracks mixed in, Miss Understood finds Ms. Wonderland tackling a few country-tinged tunes, such as “Bad Girl Blues,” which is positively twangy, thanks to Lloyd Maines’ steel guitar, and “The Farmer Song,” a tribute to the hard-working men and women who keep our bellies full. The lovely “I Don’t Want To Fall For You,” though written by Wonderland and Eldridge Goins, sounds like a long-lost jazz tune with one of her strongest vocals and Benson’s supple guitar break.

That’s not to say that there’s not plenty of powerful blues-rock present. The opening cut, “Misunderstood,” rocks hard and features Wonderland’s lap steel guitar. Rick Derringer’s (via Johnny Winter) “Still Alive And Well” is another highlight. There are also a couple of standout tracks written by Terri Hendrix, “I Found The Lions” (co-written with Maines) and the gritty “Throw My Love.” The closing ballad, “Feed Me To The Lions,” features the Tosca String Quartet.

Wonderland’s latest release is her best yet, and should prove once and for all how diverse a talent she really is. Why this young lady hasn’t gotten the recognition she deserves is a mystery. Hopefully, Miss Understood will change all that.

--- Graham Clarke


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