The Crossing

Sophie B. Hawkins

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The Crossing Review

by Jon O'Brien

After an eight-year absence, during which she gave birth to a son, lost her father, and became an outspoken political activist, Sophie B. Hawkins hasn't exactly been short of inspiration for her long-awaited fifth album, The Crossing. But whilst there are the occasional flourishes of personal reflection, such as the breathless jazz-tinged "A Child" and the '90s coffee house pop of "Georgia," both inspired by her newborn child, the follow-up to 2004's Wilderness is more concerned with putting the world to rights than any kind of soul-searching. It's an impassioned and gutsy approach which works wonders on the opening trio of "Betchya Got a Cure for Me," a twanging slice of country-blues influenced by the media wars during the 2008 Presidential campaign, an achingly raw, Janis Joplin-esque take on the Nina Simone classic "Sinner Man," and "The Land, The Sea & the Sky," a gentle, understated acoustic number written as a response to 2011's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But long before the overly generous 17 tracks reach their half-way point, Hawkins appears to lose her direction and instead drifts into a series of largely unremarkable stripped-back ballads, which apart from the smoky '50s jazz bar vibes of "Dream Street & Chance," lack any real bite or purpose. A pointless demo of the gospel-tinged "Missing," and unplugged versions of '90s hits "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" and "As I Lay Me Down" only add to the sense that she perhaps lost her focus somewhere along the line. And while there are moments which hark back to the engaging confessional pop of Tongues & Tails and Whaler, The Crossing is just too ordinary to be the career-reviver she needs.

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