When the opportunity to preview the new Sophie B. Hawkins album presented itself I jumped at it. Thinking on, I wondered just why should I be so keen to hear her first album release in around eight years – after all she doesn’t exactly have a track record of many big hits here in the UK. Despite her relatively limited commercial success here, I immediately recalled a couple of absolutely excellent earlier songs.
Coincidentally I had just been about to start a new ‘Saturday Breakfast’ show and had decided to include tracks from the book ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’, and had decided to start with those listed from the year that I first started secondary school – 1967, the same year that Sophie was born! In addition to being a musician she is also credited as a painter, so I was eager to find out just why I was so drawn to listen to this offering from somebody who I had heard so little about.
The opening track certainly ticked all the right boxes for me, one chord then straight into the lyrics “we all need somebody, we all have a soul to save” – a great layered rocking number that reminded me of one of the attractions of Sophie, her wonderful husky voice. After a few listens I have to admit that I am still unsure about the second track, an interpretation of a traditional spiritual ‘The Sinner’, the rhythmic backing and “heave ho” chanting seem a bit disjointed. Any slight doubts rapidly disappear with track three, ‘The Land, The Sea And The Sky’, a track that was written and released as a single in 2010 when she was moved by the developing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, all proceeds being given to the Waterkeeper Alliance.
As the rest of the album unfolds, a pleasing dynamic selection of songs are revealed showcasing Sophie’s distinctive vocal range. An acoustic version of her signature hit ‘Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover’ is included, sadly not the customised version that was made for Hilary Clinton’s US Presidential campaign, ‘Damn, We Wish You Were President’, but pragmatically it would probably not have been the best of ideas to include that. The song deserves to be appreciated as much more than a ‘novelty’ promotional support for a failed historical occurrence.
Interestingly Sophie notes that she met with musicians one at a time, recording with them at her house before engineering the album herself. All told I believe that this is an great testament to her writing, musicianship and engineering skills, something that I will listen to and include again; I also plan to include tracks in future show playlists. Watch out for it when it is released on June 19th.
Full track listing:
1/ Betchya Got a Cure For Me
2/ Sinner Man
3/ The Land, The Sea And The Sky
6/ Heart And Soul Of A Woman
7/ Life Is A River
8/ Miles Away
9/ I Don’t Need You
10/ Gone Baby
11/ A Child
12/ Dream St. And Chance
13/ Betchya Got A Cure For Me (Long)
14/ Damn, I Wish I was Your Lover (Acoustic)
15/ Missing (Demo)
16/ As I Lay Me Down (Acoustic)