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Final Gravity

Title - 'Crossing' (Lightyear)
Artist - Sophie B. Hawkins

Taking the charts by storm, well, as much as the mild-mannered Sophie Hawkins could ever have hoped to, her debut album, Tongues and Tails (1992) achieved both worldwide commercial success and critical acclaim. She even managed a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 1993. Her debut single from that album, 'Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover' went to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles' chart in the USA, and was also a top 20 hit in the UK.

In truth subsequent albums didn't do so well - Whaler (1994), Timbre (1999), Wilderness (2004) - but now she is back with her fifth album of all new material, The Crossing.

The album begins with the throaty popesque of 'Betchya Got A Cure For Me,' before we head into the religious-inspired 'Sinnerman.' The melodic 'The Land, the Sea, and the Sky' is next. Sporting a loungy jazz sound it has to be one of the best on the album, for my money. The beautiful bounce of 'Georgia' is next (complete with Anglelina Jolie shout out), before the power ballad 'Missing.' On some of her previous albums, the instruments and arrangements got more space then the actual song, but on tracks such as 'Heart & Soul Of A Woman,' 'Life Is A River' and the truly haunting 'Miles Away' that definitely cannot be said.

With songs obviously written about personal elements of her life, some sound like faster-paced lullaby's, their lyrics intentionally naive; but never clichd. Always expressed with the romanticism and enchantment that only Hawkins can emote, she provides further evidence of her vocal strengths on the adamant 'I Don't Need You,' the heartfelt 'Gone Baby,' the gentle blues sway of 'A Child,' and the jazz piano of 'Dream St & Chance.'

'Red Bird' and a long version of 'Betchya Got A Cure For Me' are next, but a new acoustic version of her biggest hit 'Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover' really brings this album to a stunningly beautiful (near) close. Indeed, that honor is left to an original demo version of 'Missing' and an acoustic rendition of 'As I Lay Me Down' from her album Whaler.

Instrumentally, The Crossing is very unique to listen to and Hawkins' songs are always engaging as well. Ergo, to be a fan of Hawkins' style of music is to have a soft spot for Janis Joplin and other such ilk of classic artists. Sure she does pop, rock, ballads, keyboards, driving rhythmic drumming and precussion, which is all simply perfect of combinations here on The Crossing, but with incredible lyrics and passionate vocals embedded the whole album reverberates with a sense that something great was captured here also.

www.sophiebhawkins.com





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