Houston Music

Carolyn Wonderland: Miss Understood

It seems like ages since blues wonder woman Carolyn Wonderland has put out a record — five years, to be exact. In the interim, she's moved to Austin, had record deals that fell apart and been sought out by Bob Dylan, all the while playing her ass off everywhere from Last Concert Café to the annual Sturgis Biker Rally, to the hash bars of Amsterdam. Miss Understood stands every chance of breaking her into an entirely new audience. Filled with '70s Bonnie Raitt vibes and Wonderland's screaming slide guitar work, the dozen songs stretch Langham Creek High School's most celebrated slacker across new musical landscapes, particularly subtle tracks like Bruce Robison's "Bad Girl Blues" (how country music ought to sound), J.J. Cale's "Trouble in the City" and Wonderland's own boozy piano confessional, "Feed Me to the Lions." Producer Ray Benson keeps it simple and tight, finally making a record that captures Wonderland's live essence and her stupendous Bessie Smith-like emotional range. When Wonderland and crew throw down on Terri Hendrix's "I Found the Lions," the house shakes. Now if she'd just move back to Houston...

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William Michael Smith