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Carolyn Wonderland|Tempting Fate

Tempting Fate

Carolyn Wonderland

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Four years after the gorgeously crafted, self-produced Moon Goes Missing, Texas guitarist, singer, and songwriter Carolyn Wonderland released her Alligator debut, Tempting Fate in 2021. In the interim, she spent three years as John Mayall's lead guitarist in the Bluesbreakers (she was the first woman to hold that post). Tempting Fate was produced by Dave Alvin (who plays guitar on three songs), and Wonderland is accompanied by her road band -- bassist Bobby Perkins and drummer Kevin Lance -- and guests including pianist/organist Red Young, Cindy Cashdollar on lap steel, backing vocalist Shelley King, and accordionist Jan Fleming, with Marcia Ball and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Tempting Fate features six originals and four covers and is less polished than its predecessor. Opener "Fragile Peace and Certain War" offers her trademark deep blue, rocking slide licks as her voice, guitar, and Lance's kick drum roil before Perkins' one-two bass bump sets it choogling. "Texas Girls and Her Boots" is a roadhouse boogie with Ball's piano driving the band. In excellent voice, Wonderland delivers her cleverly penned lyrics with sly joy as her guitar break bites atop Alvin's rhythm playing. "Broken Hearted Blues" features a swelling B-3; it's angry, sad, and determined. The guitar fills and solos snarl and churn against the beat and her passionate singing straddles the line between a roar and a croon. The band delivers a smoking read of Mayall's "The Laws Must Change." Rather than follow the original's harmonica-driven acoustic chart, Wonderland engages pure electricity with biting six-string riffs, organ, breakbeat snares, and a funky bassline. Her solo burns into the progression and elevates the groove. The reading of Billy Joe Shaver's "Honey Bee" weds West Texas honky tonk to Cajun zydeco with wiry leads, fills, filthy accordion, clattering snares, and tom-toms. Wonderland's singing is expressive, romantic, and sensual. She turns the record on its head with "On My Feet Again," a slinky jazz-blues that showcases sophisticated vocal phrasing and elegant, canny Lonnie Johnson-esque guitar fills and chord voicings. Two covers close out the set. The first is a silvery, loose, backporch version of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" in duet with Gilmore. The pair's voices blend seamlessly with the tune's blues root placed front and center. Alvin plays lead guitar on Wonderland's reading of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's "Loser." A sinister folk blues at heart, the grain of Wonderland's mournful voice weds blues and gospel. Alvin adds effects-laden psychedelic leads, ratcheting up the intensity until it explodes in an orgy of distorted guitars, cracking drums, and swelling keyboards. On Tempting Fate, Wonderland's originals stack up nicely against her cover choices, but it's her astonishing playing and soulful, sophisticated singing that place this record above all others in her catalog.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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Tempting Fate

Carolyn Wonderland

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1
Fragile Peace And Certain War
00:03:59

Dave Alvin, Producer - Stuart Sullivan, Mixer - Carolyn Wonderland, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist - Bob-A-Lew Songs obo Wonder Chicken, MusicPublisher

2021 Alligator Records, LLC 2021 Alligator Records, LLC

2
Texas Girl And Her Boots
00:04:19

Dave Alvin, Producer - Stuart Sullivan, Mixer - Carolyn Wonderland, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist - Bob-A-Lew Songs obo Wonder Chicken, MusicPublisher

2021 Alligator Records, LLC 2021 Alligator Records, LLC

3
Broken Hearted Blues
00:04:52

Dave Alvin, Producer - Stuart Sullivan, Mixer - Carolyn Wonderland, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist - Greg Rzab, Composer, Lyricist - Bob-A-Lew Songs obo Wonder Chicken, MusicPublisher - Cobrazbmusic, MusicPublisher

2021 Alligator Records, LLC 2021 Alligator Records, LLC

4
Fortunate Few
00:03:25

Dave Alvin, Producer - Stuart Sullivan, Mixer - Carolyn Wonderland, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist - Bob-A-Lew Songs obo Wonder Chicken, MusicPublisher

2021 Alligator Records, LLC 2021 Alligator Records, LLC

5
Crack In The Wall
00:03:09

Dave Alvin, Producer - Stuart Sullivan, Mixer - Carolyn Wonderland, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist - Bob-A-Lew Songs obo Wonder Chicken, MusicPublisher

2021 Alligator Records, LLC 2021 Alligator Records, LLC

6
The Laws Must Change
00:05:00

Dave Alvin, Producer - John Mayall, Composer, Lyricist - Stuart Sullivan, Mixer - Carolyn Wonderland, MainArtist - Unichappel Music, MusicPublisher

2021 Alligator Records, LLC 2021 Alligator Records, LLC

7
Honey Bee
00:04:26

Billy Joe Shaver, Composer, Lyricist - Dave Alvin, Producer - Stuart Sullivan, Mixer - Songs Of Universal, MusicPublisher - Carolyn Wonderland, MainArtist

2021 Alligator Records, LLC 2021 Alligator Records, LLC

8
On My Feet Again
00:02:59

Dave Alvin, Producer - Stuart Sullivan, Mixer - Carolyn Wonderland, Composer, Lyricist, MainArtist - Bob-A-Lew Songs obo Wonder Chicken, MusicPublisher

2021 Alligator Records, LLC 2021 Alligator Records, LLC

9
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
00:03:47

Bob Dylan, Composer, Lyricist - Dave Alvin, Producer - Stuart Sullivan, Mixer - Carolyn Wonderland, MainArtist - Universal Tunes, MusicPublisher

2021 Alligator Records, LLC 2021 Alligator Records, LLC

10
Loser
00:07:16

Robert Hunter, Composer, Lyricist - Jerry Garcia, Composer, Lyricist - Dave Alvin, Producer - Stuart Sullivan, Mixer - Carolyn Wonderland, MainArtist - ICE NINE PUBLISHING, MusicPublisher

2021 Alligator Records, LLC 2021 Alligator Records, LLC

Album Description

Four years after the gorgeously crafted, self-produced Moon Goes Missing, Texas guitarist, singer, and songwriter Carolyn Wonderland released her Alligator debut, Tempting Fate in 2021. In the interim, she spent three years as John Mayall's lead guitarist in the Bluesbreakers (she was the first woman to hold that post). Tempting Fate was produced by Dave Alvin (who plays guitar on three songs), and Wonderland is accompanied by her road band -- bassist Bobby Perkins and drummer Kevin Lance -- and guests including pianist/organist Red Young, Cindy Cashdollar on lap steel, backing vocalist Shelley King, and accordionist Jan Fleming, with Marcia Ball and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Tempting Fate features six originals and four covers and is less polished than its predecessor. Opener "Fragile Peace and Certain War" offers her trademark deep blue, rocking slide licks as her voice, guitar, and Lance's kick drum roil before Perkins' one-two bass bump sets it choogling. "Texas Girls and Her Boots" is a roadhouse boogie with Ball's piano driving the band. In excellent voice, Wonderland delivers her cleverly penned lyrics with sly joy as her guitar break bites atop Alvin's rhythm playing. "Broken Hearted Blues" features a swelling B-3; it's angry, sad, and determined. The guitar fills and solos snarl and churn against the beat and her passionate singing straddles the line between a roar and a croon. The band delivers a smoking read of Mayall's "The Laws Must Change." Rather than follow the original's harmonica-driven acoustic chart, Wonderland engages pure electricity with biting six-string riffs, organ, breakbeat snares, and a funky bassline. Her solo burns into the progression and elevates the groove. The reading of Billy Joe Shaver's "Honey Bee" weds West Texas honky tonk to Cajun zydeco with wiry leads, fills, filthy accordion, clattering snares, and tom-toms. Wonderland's singing is expressive, romantic, and sensual. She turns the record on its head with "On My Feet Again," a slinky jazz-blues that showcases sophisticated vocal phrasing and elegant, canny Lonnie Johnson-esque guitar fills and chord voicings. Two covers close out the set. The first is a silvery, loose, backporch version of Bob Dylan's "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" in duet with Gilmore. The pair's voices blend seamlessly with the tune's blues root placed front and center. Alvin plays lead guitar on Wonderland's reading of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's "Loser." A sinister folk blues at heart, the grain of Wonderland's mournful voice weds blues and gospel. Alvin adds effects-laden psychedelic leads, ratcheting up the intensity until it explodes in an orgy of distorted guitars, cracking drums, and swelling keyboards. On Tempting Fate, Wonderland's originals stack up nicely against her cover choices, but it's her astonishing playing and soulful, sophisticated singing that place this record above all others in her catalog.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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