Sophie B. Hawkins might just be the hardest working musician in the business. After her last album, Timbre, was abandoned by Sony Music in 1999, Hawkins bought back the masters, repackaged the album and re-released it on her own label, Trumpet Swan, in 2001. (Add to that her steadfast commitment to save the turtles and an album credit that reads: “Piano, Keyboards, Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Banjo, Udu, Djembe, Percussion, Vibraphone, Marimba, Loops and All Vocals.”) Over a decade after Hawkins landed with “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” the singer is still trudging along beautifully. She emerged on stage barefoot at The Bottom Line, flailing her blond mane around like a headbanger and gyrating like a belly dancer to the frenetic beats of “Mysteries We Understand,” an ode to her hometown NYC roots. She plowed through her 15-song set-list, the second of two back-to-back performances, spanning tracks from her debut, Tongues and Tails, through her forthcoming as-yet-untitled album, which she informed the audience was funded by the sale of a plot of land in Kaui and will be released once she meets with “some men” in the wild, wild west. Though her enthusiasm was undeniable and her chatter engaging, Hawkins may have been eager to head to her favorite restaurant on Mott St., as she refused to stray from her planned set-list, and seemed annoyed at one overzealous, head-bobbing fan’s request for the brilliant “I Need Nothing Else,” and failed to return for a promised encore. Though Hawkins’s voice may be flawed, her band a bit scanty (a painful synthesizer attempted to compensate during songs like “Did We Not Choose Each Other”), and a few keyboard notes questionable, she’s still got more raw emotion and stage presence than many other performers. Her hips swiveled erotically, her mouth nearly eating the microphone, as she performed the evening’s inevitable finale, “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,” stripped down to a Snuggle Fabric Softener tank-top and posing like a nun as she whispered the words, “I lay by the ocean making love to her with visions clear.” After ten years of obstacles, Hawkins’s sense of humor has endured and she remains one of the most passionate and committed artists in the business.
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