The Good: Two wonderful songs.
The Bad: Nothing original, Short, Poor use of the medium.
The Basics: Good music, poor use of the medium, “California Here I Come” is not Sophie B. Hawkins’s strongest single endeavor.
Those who know me well know that one of my favorite musical artists of all time is Sophie B. Hawkins, a pop-rock singer who has been more widely considered a “one hit wonder” (despite the fact that she has had two Top Ten hits in the United States). I was thrilled to see Hawkins in concert several times a few years back (and it was actually on the Sophie B. Hawkins message boards that I first learned of Epinions!). So, it takes a lot for me to not recommend one of Hawkins’ works. I write this as the preface for “California Here I Come” because no matter how much I love the works of Sophie B. Hawkins, it is truly only the most obsessive, die-hard collectors who will need to hunt this single down.
Sophie B. Hawkins tends to be a very independent artist and I’ve been a fan of her work since her debut, Tongues & Tails, which spawned the hit “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover.” The follow-up single which almost no one heard was “California Here I Come.” It can actually be found surprisingly easy in the secondary market because it was such a shelfwarmer. The unfortunate aspect of it for fans of Hawkins is that there is nothing unique to the disc to make listeners want to bother hunting it down.
With only two tracks, clocking out at less than nine minutes of music, “California Here I Come” is very much an unimpressive c.d. single, but also very much the musical vision of Sophie B. Hawkins. Hawkins wrote both the title track and “Saviour Child,” the “b-side” song on the disc. As well, Hawkins performs both the lead vocals and plays keyboards on both songs. The problem most collectors and listeners will have with shelling out anything for this album is that both tracks are identical to how they appear not only on Tongues & Tails, but on the album The Best Of Sophie B. Hawkins! There is nothing unique to this album and it is a poor use of the compact disc medium as it utilizes so little capacity of a disc.
That said, the music on “California Here I Come” is remarkably good. Both songs are pop-rock with an emphasis on good lyrics and accenting the voice of Sophie B. Hawkins. The title track is a dance-pop song about running away to California to try to make dreams come true and leave demons behind. It is keyboard driven and has a somewhat simplistic dance-pop sound to it. As well, it is not one of Hawkins’ best written songs with lines like “California I’ll be there / Let me fall into your hair / I won’t be guilty for my New York City care / My sister come along with me / Our God is offering our share / California I’ll be there“ (“California Here I Come”). This is a simpler rhyme scheme than most songs on the radio and most of Hawkins’s songs, which might be why it never took to the air the way she and Columbia hoped. That said, the song is one of the few traveling songs in pop-rock in the early 90s and the use of the Lord’s Prayer in it is pretty innovative.
As for “Saviour Child,” that song gives Hawkins a chance to show her full vocal range. Starting slowly and in the alto range, she goes into the soprano range and illustrates amazing capacity for parts of this ballad. Singing about loneliness and loss, Hawkins is at her most expressive and emotive when she sings “Yeah child / I am crying / 'cause I know just how you're feeling / But there won't be an answer / For a long long while / So promise me / You won't stop dreaming” (“Saviour Child”). The song has a more pop-driven refrain, which does undermine some of the emotional intensity of the rest of the lines, but it is still a remarkably poetic and empathetic song.
But in the end, despite the writing, playing and singing talents of Sophie B. Hawkins, this is just a single and it is not the strongest one in the world. Anyone who wants the music on this disc would do better to get either of the albums these two songs are on.
For other works by Sophie B. Hawkins, please check out my reviews of:
"Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover" (single)
Tongues And Tails
"I Want You" (single)
"Right Beside You" (single)
"As I Lay Me Down" (single)
The Cream Will Rise (documentary)
Live! Bad Kitty Board Mix
For other music reviews, be sure to check out my Music Review Index Page for all the music reviews I have written!
© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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