Houston's premier blues-rock belter disappoints on her muddy, uncertain debut, an album full of club-tested numbers that seem to go nowhere without the attendant beer buzz and good-natured biker-hippie vibe Carolyn Wonderland and her Imperial Monkeys exude on-stage. Even so, the loose arrangements give guitarist Eric Dane plenty of space to play, and his slide work is simply liquid throughout Play With Matches. This is a product of Texas, after all, where letting one's hair down on occasion is crucial to survival. So too bad Wonderland's low-register vibrato, accented by the occasional growl-and-yowl combo, tends toward the mannered and stiff -- as if the feisty spirit of Janis Joplin were frozen solid inside the chilly pipes of Melissa Etheridge.
AllMusic Review by Hobart Rowland