What can I say about Carolyn Wonderland’s latest record, “Peace Meal”? A lot really, but I have a lot to write about so I will try and keep it as short as possible.
This record is absolutely, without any reservations, one of the best I have heard this decade, let alone this year! Her voice is as powerful as any I have ever heard and the comparisons to Janis Joplin are abundant, and for good reason. One, she’s from Texas, two she’s got a lot of soul, but mostly, she’s got that charisma and talent it takes to shine through.
I cannot say the comparisons to Janis are unfair or unwanted. In fact, she opens the record with Janice’s rarely heard “What Good Will Drinking Do”. My thoughts on this one? It’s the best version I’ve heard, including Ms. Joplin’s original version!
She can go from the rocking’ blues to the more jazzy swamp boogie-woogie New Orleans style and make it sound seamless, like it is almost the exact same genre.
Her guitar work is some of the best I’ve heard as she has proven repeatedly in her previous works, but even more so here. It would seem that Producers, Ray Benson, Michael Nesmith, Larry Campbell, and Sam Seifert have shined the spotlight on her amazing talent on the guitar making her commanding voice and stridently advanced guitar work balanced throughout the record.
The music here has everything for virtually every one, and will definitely be a staple on the radio version of “From Under the Basement”. However, the tune that “shined” through and stood out the most to me was “Golden Stairs”. This tune is blues with a hint of Texas Twang, which I would guess has Mr. Benson’s signature on it somewhere. Hell, Mr. Nesmith's too for that matter.
Later Ms. Wonderland takes Bob Dylan’s “Meet Me in the Morning” and adds an element of soul I’m willing to bet Mr. Dylan wasn’t even aware could exist. It is absolutely an incredible cover to an already incredible tune, but she successfully adds another, previously unknown dimension to it.
Surely, you’re getting the picture by now. This is necessary addition to just about anyone’s library.
I will make one more suggestion though. We all need to go see Ms. Wonderland in the smaller venues while we still can. This album has Grammy written all over it. I can safely say that, since recently the Grammys have been opening up doors for previously locked out genres.