In a world where the airwaves are hijacked (I know, sorry) with cookie-cutter singer-songwriters of the fairer sex (Sheryl Crow, Shawn Colvin et al.) who seem to put more of a premium on sex appeal than originality, it's good to know there's someone like Edith Frost to take us away from it all for a little while.
For those of you lucky enough to have caught her opening up for Vic Chestnut at Club Congress a couple of years back, you know the power of her crooning and the subtle beauty of her delivery. The performance was so quiet at times that you could have heard a pin drop if not for her beautiful and tender singing. It was definitely a must see, just as Wonder Wonder is a must hear.
With 12 musicians at her disposal, including Archer Prewitt of the Sea and Cake, and Steve Albini at the controls, Frost has turned out a magnificent little record. With a much broader sound than past efforts (piano, clarinet, slide guitar and violin, to name a few) to complement her golden pipes, Frost gives us a tinge of country that could be compared to the likes of, say, Iris DeMent or even Patsy Cline.
Wonder's most notable track is "Cars and Parties." It is both the closest she's come to a rock song, and the most sing-along-able of the lot. Beginning with just chiming bells, a marching band-style snare drum and piano, Edith reminds us where she's from: "Everywhere I go reminds me of someplace down in Texas / And every time I close my eyes, I dream of my old home." Then, with the band launching into full swing, comes her disdain for the city: "And oh, it's getting' so cold 'round here / There's too many cars 'round here / There's too many parties."
The charming melody of the title track has Frost wondering what to do about a lover gone wrong, while her cohorts play a Preservation Hall-esque jazz ditty. If the clarinet solo doesn't make you smile, you probably just don't like music. In fact, I can almost see Edith herself smiling when she sings, "I heard about you lyin' to your mama, baby / And I wonder wonder what I should do." Decisions, decisions.
Near the end of this Wonderful ride comes "Easy to Love," which has her singing in such a beautifully deep and personal and warm voice you could swear it was meant only for your ears. Enough to bring a grown man to tears of joy (not me, of course).
The bottom line here is that Wonder Wonder is simply a charmer charmer that you just gotta hear to believe. And if you believe all of this, then my name's... Brian Mock.