Carolyn Wonderland: Tempting Fate Review

Now part of Alligator Records, blues-woman veteran Carolyn Wonderland is set to release her upcoming album Tempting Fate. After a bunch of years hitting the road with her own band, eleven albums out, and a recent three-year tenure as a side-woman of John Mayall, she is reaching a new milestone. Almost always handling a Fender Thinline Telecaster or an aged Gibson Blueshawk she delivers high-level fingerstyle blues power accompanied by a truly raspy and steady vocal.

The preciseness of the slide lines and the wide range of the vocals will grab your attention in the powerful slide blues “Fragile Peace And Certain War”. Keeping the pace with a piano blues, in “Texas Girl And Her Boots” she gets a little nostalgic singing about being a girl in her home, Texas. The vocals are also the highlights in “Broken Hearted Blues”, whose recording perfectly captured the climate and energy of a live performance.

In “Fortunate Few”, the piano comes again to perform a soft mattress for Carolyn’s sweet voice. The clean guitar tones switch over time, once reinforcing the base, another assuming the main role in the solos. Slowing down a little bit, “Crack In The Wall” incorporates different tones from lap steel and accordion. “The Laws Must Change” approaches a funky blues, with the bass and drums keeping the harmony while the guitars and vocals deliver the melodies.

In spite of the same title as Tom Petty’s “Honey bee”, Carolyn picked a totally different song by the outlaw country master Billy Joe Shaver. And that choice fits wonderfully to the album’s purpose. “On My Feet Again” has a jazzy approach, with the piano representing the soul of the song but also incorporating whistles among the clean guitar lines. Bob Dylan’s “It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry” receivesa brand new version by Carolyn, reinforcing the country side of it, and features shared vocals with Texan ace Jimmie Dale Gilmore. The introspective Grateful Dead’s “Loser” was the picked one to receive a cleaner and soulful version by Carolyn.

After hearing Tempting Fate and knowing a little bit about Carolyn’s history, I wondered if she picked the album’s title as a mention of her own path and next challenges, as well. It’s plain to see that she keeps prioritizing her own personality, giving her personal style to the songs as a guitarist, vocalist, as well as a songwriter.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Fragile Peace And Certain War
– Honey Bee
– On My Feet Again
– Loser

The Big Hit

– Fragile Peace And Certain War

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

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