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