Bismeaux Productions # CD9591
By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker
12 songs; 44:35 minutes; Meritable
True of False:
“Blues” is a big house with many rooms.
True or False: Delbert McClinton is a blues artist.
True or False: Genre labels do not matter as long as the music is
If you answered “true” to all three quiz
questions, then you will enjoy Carolyn Wonderland’s seventh feature
release, Miss Understood. Even those who answered “false” to
any of the questions will enjoy the amazing first song
“Misunderstood.” If you answered “false” to all three, then you will
not find the “blues” you seek, beyond the first track.
Featuring Wonderland on down right inspiring
lap steel guitar, “Misunderstood,” after just two listens, became my
favorite song of 2008 with no one else’s single even close. A
wonderland original, the mid-tempo shuffle starts with Carloyn’s lap
steel slide bursting a repeated series of catchy notes. But, that
ain’t nothing – realized when she creates an intricate mid-song
solo. Her ear-perking vocals are in that perfect female register
that implies, “I can love you or kill you, either one, if I am not
too busy already!”
Do you ever get the feeling that there are so
many music artists, past and present, that you will never get to
hear (or even “hear of”) them all? Sometimes it is down right
embarrassing when a “new” artist comes along, so that I have to ask,
“Where have I been?” Carolyn Wonderland presents just such a case.
Well known in Texas, familiar to touring mates like Buddy Guy and
Johnny Winter, and admired by fans like Bob Dylan, I have just been
made aware of her by this album.
Carolyn Wonderland is a
singer/songwriter/pianist/ trumpeter/guitarist originally from
Houston, Texas. In Houston, she won awards in The Houston Press for
everything from Best Guitarist, Female Vocalist, Songwriter, Blues,
to Release of the Year and Musician of the Year -- virtually
sweeping the awards for five years from the time she was a teenager.
Now residing in Austin, Ms. Wonderland says, “I moved to the land of
free guitar lessons!”
Wonderland's songs have been featured on NBC's
“Homicide” and Fox's “Time of Your Life.”
She likes to incorporate elements of Blues,
Country, Swing, Zydeco, Surf, Gospel, Soul, and some nights, maybe
even a Cumbia into the musical mix. Stretching out musically, she
has recently worked some whistling and scat singing into her shows.
In addition to her trusty guitar, ‘Patty,” Carolyn has been
regularly playing her trumpet, and even occasionally the accordion,
mandolin, or keys.
Miss Understood has plenty of Texas
pedigree – witness the producer, Asleep At The Wheel’s Ray Benson
and Cindy Cashdollar on dobro. Lloyd Maines, father of Dixie Chicks’
Natalie Maines, guests on five different types of guitars, and Jamie
Oldaker drums on some songs. Other guests include Guy Forsyth, Cole
El-Saleh, Dave Sanger, Glenn Fukunaga, Jon Blondell, and that is the
One surprise is a cover of Rick Derringer’s
“Still Alive and Well.” Full of multi tracked electric guitar by
Wonderland, the song rocks and drives with all the punch and fun of
the original - think instant flashback and chorus sing-a-long.
Another track, “Bad Girl Blues” verges on Country with Maines’ steel
guitar and Wes Hightower adding harmony vocals. Throwing some John
Mills horns in the mix, “Walk On” is an upbeat number with
Wonderland sounding like a lit up Marcia Ball. If you’re gonna play
in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band, and “Long Way To Go”
does that courtesy of Jason Roberts. How about some lounge-jazz
understated guitar behind some bedroom vocals – try “I Don’t Want To
Fall For You.” Full production number – yep, on JJ Cale’s “Trouble
In The City.” For some blues theme, try “I Live Alone With Someone.”
can see, Carolyn Wonderland is no one trick pony. This CD should go
far to remove wonder throughout the land about who she is.
“Skyy Dobro” Walker
is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast
His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each
Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm
on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL