Miss Understood
" Carolyn Wonderland "

Not Misunderstood At All, (05/21/08)

Listening to Carolyn Wonderland one cannot help to notice some influences of Janis Joplin. Add to the mix her hot guitar licks reminiscent of a cross-section of several great Texas guitarists and you have one very special and developing artist. But forget about the references, as this very hip lady shows off a lot of individuality. Produced by Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson, Miss Understood often focuses on rocking Blues, but she's definitely more than a Blueswoman, as she writes her own songs, performs ballads and covers, stings the guitar across various genres, and is one heck of Soul singer, too.

Wonderland's Imperial Monkeys received a lot of notoriety with her hard-rocking Blues in the Houston area during the 1980s. Miss Understood shows her as a multiple threat for gut-wrenching vocals, strong guitar playing, and delightful songwriting. Highlights include the traditionally oriented opener "Misunderstood," smartly written by Wonderland with her dynamite slide playing and well thought-out passages. Terri Hendrix's "I Found The Lions" is infectiously funky and is further fueled by a honking horn section, Wonderland's over-the-top trance like singing, and tasty guitar licks. "Walk On," co-written by Wonderland and producer Ray Benson, is all Soul and Funk with its thumping bass line courtesy of Glenn Fukunaga, more tight horn-charts, Guy Forsyth's harp, and another strong vocal delivery by Wonderland.

Listen to the fresh treatment of "Still Alive And Well" (the title track of Johnny Winter's LP, written by his then often second guitarist and producer Rick Derringer) that is interpreted by this powerful band, as this fiery redhead (Wonderland) unleashes a killer guitar solo on this rocking classic. "Long Way To Go," also co-written by Benson and Wonderland, is a gem destined for mega-airplay on various formats around the dial. The jazzy ballad "I Don't Want To Fall For You" is also sumptuous and delicious, with tasty chord phrasings from Wonderland.

J.J. Cale's "Trouble In The City" has more scrumptious horn charts, neat guitar work, and excellent vocals that I am certain would make Cale smile. A second Terri Hendrix tune, "Throw My Love," is another fine interpretation from Wonderland with its pulsating keyboard work by Cole El-Saleh and percolating guitar by Wonderland. "I Live Alone With Someone," another original, is very reminiscent of Doc Pomus' "Lonely Avenue" made famous by Brother Ray and others; no matter, Wonderland's vocals are riveting, as is her fiery guitar playing.

Wonderland's previous recording, Bloodless Revolution [2005] also recorded in Austin, was also quite strong, but Miss Understood is a bold step in the evolution of Wonderland who seemingly has a very bright future. If you have any doubts, note that she's been sought out by Bob Dylan. This Miss Understood is not misunderstood at all. Actually, Wonderland is readily accessible and has the potential to introduce her brand of Blues to a much wider audience. Stay tuned!

Bob Putignano is a contributing editor at BluesWax. You may contact Bob at blueswax@visnat.com

Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com