Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., July 11, 2003
Carolyn WonderlandBloodless Revolution
Not since the mid-Eighties when local singer Karen Kraft made critics' hair stand on end and then gargled "Stormy Weather" on Letterman has a set of pipes as big as Carolyn Wonderland's let loose here. Wonderland's voice is as muscular as her name is evocative, and after collecting nearly every award the Houston music scene has to offer, she's released her first solo album in Austin. Produced by Stephen Doster, Bloodless Revolution strives to demonstrate Wonderland's stylistic and songwriting diversity and succeeds without question. Wonderland does rock ("Driving Into the Sun"), ballads ("Unbroken"), jazz ("Homelessness in Austin"), country ("This Land"), and gawd, can she sing gut-wrenching blues ("Judgement Day Blues"). So why does Bloodless Revolution feel like an audition? Her compositions likewise run the gamut and are musically and lyrically solid ("Annie's Scarlet Letter," "From a Waffle Booth Six"). Wonderland's voice is at its absolute best paired with another, as on "He Said, She Said" playing Merry Clayton to bandmate Scott Daniels' Mick Jagger. Yet Bloodless Revolution never really comes together. Perhaps it's just the effect of trying to cultivate a wildflower in a hothouse, but Wonderland's growth doesn't seem anywhere near complete. One of these days very soon, Carolyn Wonderland will totally deliver, and we'll all be standing with our hair on end.