Many people who love music usually love the “Blues.” We may not realize it, and it may be somewhat subtle. We listen to The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, or even Bonnie Raitt. Most of their songs are of the blues. We just don’t stop to realize it, unless we are blues proficient. However, there is a lady here who has been singing her bluesy style for a few weeks now. She has been in the business a very long time, has played many venues, and has written many, many songs. Her name is Sandy Carroll. She has something to sing about and she certainly has got the “Blues.”
When listening to Sandy’s music, no doubt she is an accomplished writer and musician. Her music is straight forward and seems to send a message saying “what you see is what you get.” Her newest album, Unnaturally Blonde, deals with a “humorous” look at what we all think about in blonde women. However, in an interview with her she stated that the album was a message of “empowerment for women” as well. Regardless, thinking beyond the stupid blonde jokes or sexual innuendos, there may be more to this album than one hears. When you listen to the tracks individually, she definitely has something to say song to song and Sandy writes so well. Check out “Superman Blues,” but not yet. Back to the album, as one listens to the tracks as a whole there might be something beyond the obvious. The album seems to be telling a playful, humorous, and at times cynical, story. It reminds one of a novel with the tracks being chapters in one’s life. Hence, another title to the album could be “Finaglings of a Banter Blonde.” Let’s see where this goes.
As we listen to the opening track, “Unnaturally Blonde,” is a woman who is coming of age. She wants something different in her life. She wants to push the envelope some, maybe even reinvent herself. Basically, she is saying ” I don’t want to play by the rules any longer.” So she decides to make a drastic change. She hates the drama that goes with the color, but she loves the attention. I love the line “they fly like a moth to the shine of her yellow light.” No doubt, strong attractions, but she uses the attraction as leverage to her advantage, pretending to be dumb to control and manipulate, in a playful sort of way of course. Now the woman is a “blonde bombshell” navigating the moth’s movements and fluttering. Sandy did a wonderful job with the lyrics but I especially love what sounds like a guitar intro and the guitar throughout the number. Also, I really liked David Smith on the bass. It adds to the “trouble is coming” sound.
The album moves us to the next chapter with “I Got You.” Our blonde “bombshell” is now in a reckless relationship. “They go down in history. But they ain’t got nothin on you and they ain’t got nothin on me.” Sandy gives us all kinds of examples with the help of her husband, Jim Gaines. No really, it really is her husband, and he is the producer as well. Bonnie and Clyde, Adam and Eve, Johnny and June Carter Cash, and Anthony and Cleopatra. Evan Ralph and Alice Kramden are in this motley crue. Just listen to the song, it’s a good one. The bottom line is these people were living on the edge, flirting with disaster, but had a strong love, ok maybe lust too. The blonde lady in “I Got You” has done just that, caught him like a fly in a spider web. Musically, the staccato guitar is simply awesome as well as the quality of the musicians, and is extremely well produced.
Next comes “Sundown (Lay the Day to Bed).” First of all, this song would be a great theme song to a Phil and Ms. Kay episode.
“Lay they day to bed, sundown, nighttime up ahead, sundown comin’ round.”
For the lady in blonde, this song is a daydream as to what she truly wants and needs. I really like the title of this piece, it reminds me of “A Hard Day’s Night,” with the play on words. You will enjoy this piece. Sandy really “purrs” with her sultry voice.
Ok, I can talk about “Superman Blues” now. It’s a great song especially if you are a guy.
“Baby don’t ask for anything he only wants to please… No, my baby keeps me up all night with his superhuman strength.”
Can’t say much more than that, except our blonde bomb is living life vicariously, maybe trying to generate the fantasy as real. She is thinking what so many have thought, “to hell with the relationship, let’s focus on the sex.” This song is something you really need to listen to very carefully, it is well written by Sandy and Jim Solberg. I loved it, but then again I’m a guy.
Here, I have to get somewhat creative with the order of selection where we slither down to “Bad B Movie.” The bombshell has realized she has met her match, a mirror of herself, his hair is not blonde, but he does have hair. This is where she revisits living on the edge, having someone who is exciting and mysterious, but possibly dangerous.
“I can’t believe I let you do it. Fascination kept me glued right though.”
For her, it’s starting to unfold into a bad “Quantum Leap” episode. The glue is starting to melt and come undone. Even the organ in the background adds to the drama making the piece sound somewhat soap operatic.
As the next song unfolds in “Can’t Make The Devil Cry,” the envelope has finally pushed off into abyss. The relationship has gone south. “Our innocence is over,” “Fighting each other angry all the time.” Our unnatural blonde wishes she were someplace else. She realizes she has made a contract with the devil. “He promise to deliver, give you everything you crave. But the devil is laughin’ cause there’s only hell to pay.” This is a piece that most everyone can relate to sometime in their lives. Sandy and co-writer, William Lee Ellis, did an superb job here. This track is one of the best. Listening to this piece, I can imagine her really connecting with her audience with that gospel beat.
In “Somebody Gotta Pay” the relationship has gone to hell and now she wants to fix things. However, she looks around starts seeing what’s really important. “No jobs left,” “people livin in the streets,” and “all the empty houses.” Probably this line has to deal with the present moment of the “Great Recession.” There is a bit of intensity and judgment in the music as well. It fits for the lady who is getting her “wake up call.” Which brings us to “Leave it Alone.” She is realizing the truth, but projecting to others, still living in a subconscious denial.
“You gotta leave it alone leave it alone. You got trouble ahead gonna wish you were dead.”
As she is talking to others, she is talking to herself. The Musicians are playing toward the finale, and Will MacFarlane follows Sandy well on lead guitar here.
Well it’s finally “Good to be Home.” This track is my favorite, it is an excellent piece written by Sandy, Jim Gaines, and Bob Trenchard. Now the “unnatural blonde” is back in her safe house. “Try to go back to what you left behind,” “Keep on looking but you’ll never find.” “Everything has changed and everything’s the same.” Need I say anymore? I love the paradox in the last line. It’s so true how we change throughout life but remain the same. She is back home stronger, wiser, and more powerful than ever. For some reason I have this feeling I want to bust out into a Helen Reddy song.
As the album concludes, we hear a prodigious piece, “Waltzing To Sunset (Pappy’s Song)” In talking with Sandy, she stated this is somewhat of a “personal song” for her and Jim. During the interview, I could tell that this song is something very special to the both of them. She said it took two years to write it. Wow, patience is a virtue. Basically, the song takes you to a place where you think about someone that you will never forget and have fond memories. I certainly did. And for our fictional character, it means something to her as well, peace with herself and her God. Now, we are here.
When one hears Sandy’s music, listening to that bluesy voice of hers she describes her music as being organic, meaning “natural and raw.” This writer has to agree, but no doubt this kid has to have some “church” in her. It rings out throughout the album. She also mentioned in her interview that she was a “nugget from God.” I believe God had something unique for her beginning in her teen years. It is clear her calling is to write and sing and she does it well. For her, I feel she is on a mission, not to steal from the “Blues Brothers,” but she just might be on a mission to provide some valuable entertainment. She has a great bluesy sound, works among a “who’s who” of musicians, and has a remarkable husband/producer.
This is Ms. Sandy Carroll, and she has a recipe for success.