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Volume 68, Issue 155, Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Arts & Entertainment

Hawkins 'Best Of' an easy sedative 

By Zach Lee
The Daily Cougar

To the uninitiated, a glance at the cover of Sophie B. Hawkins' Best of album may give a false impression. The front cover shows Hawkins lying down in the middle of railroad tracks, holding a guitar in a sweater and blue jeans. People unfamiliar with Hawkins' style of music may get the idea that she is a folksy rocker along the lines of Lucinda Williams or Sarah McLachlan. They would be wrong.

Her official website ( lists vivisection protests, breast cancer awareness and general animal rights activism as just a sample of her grassroots activities. Hawkins is a bit folksy, but her music is very different. 

Hawkins began studying African drums at the ripe age of 14. She went on to study classical percussion at the renowned Manhattan School of Music, and since then has become quite an accomplished musician. She left the school to form several of her own bands, and to play music for dance schools on the side. Over the years, she has played guitar, piano, banjo, udu, djembe, marimba and vibraphone. While some of the instruments she plays may be rare in popular music, her versatility as a musician is commendable.

Her style is anything but abrasive. The new age backdrops to any of her songs could be used to put even the most finicky toddler to sleep. Some critics have likened her to a modern-day Janis Joplin, but that comparison is a little bit of a stretch. With that said, even her greatest hits aren't too great. Of course, most of the people that buy "Best of" albums are already fans of the artist, in which case this album would be a good choice.

The first song is "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover," the 1992 single that helped earn Hawkins a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. People unfamiliar with Hawkins may be interested to know the video was banned from MTV for its overly erotic themes. Fan favorites like "Don't Stop Swaying," "Right Beside You" and "I Need Nothing Else" are soothing, and songs like "Mysteries We Understand" bring just a little funk guitar to the table.

There's one other song that people other than Hawkins' grassroots fanbase may recognize. "As I Lay Me Down" stayed on the Billboard charts for 67 weeks, the longest ever for a single.

Fans might do well to get this CD, but there's absolutely nothing on it with a chance of waking up most college students. 

Sophie B. Hawkins

The Best of Sophie B. Hawkins

Columbia/Legacy Records

The verdict: It works better than chloroform.

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