Tongues and Tails

If it’s Sophie B. Hawkins’ caramelized-sugar voice that first reels you in to her debut, the plucky experiments you encounter only reinforce her charm. You could classify her style as singer-songwriter rock crossed with dance music, but that wouldn’t prepare you for the tricky percussion figures worked into the mix. The arrangements are lush without being overly groomed, and the synthesizers — burnished to a luster rather than lacquered, never going for the cheap thrill — know their place. Hawkins occasionally missteps on Tongues and Tails, particularly in her lumbering version of Bob Dylan’s ”I Want You”: She strains to give those three words weight; Dylan, recognizing their inadequacy, just tossed them to the wind. But for the most part, Hawkins does justice to her clear-witted lyrics. In ”Carry Me,” she ponders her relationship with her mother, ultimately rolling around to the embracing, admirably adult conclusion: ”I tried to change the nature/But now I like it ’cause it’s mine.” And in the killer single ”Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” Hawkins says those words as insouciantly as if she’d just broken a nail. But she still lets you know they mean a hell of a lot more to her than that. B+

Tongues and Tails
  • Music