Sophie B. Hawkins strode confidently onto the stage at the House of Blues to the accompaniament of wolf whistles and high-pitched squeals from everyone, giving new meaning to the term crossover appeal.
Hawkins returns their attentions with an unselfconscious joy. “Where did all these gorgeous people come from?,” she asked, her arms stretched out as if to embrace the crowd, “you all are such cuties!” Standing before the mike with a lean grace, her face framed by her untamed blonde curls, Hawkins heats up the stage with a coltish sensuality, throwing herself into the songs with an unbridled enthusiasm. Her voice combines Joni Mitchell’s early, clear soprano with Ricky Lee Jones’ boho sensibilities, adorning them with jazzy melismas, throaty growls and bedroom whispers. When she wants to get really dramatic, on songs such as “Before I Walk On Fire,” she races above the melody with the passion of a gospel singer. She sounds equally at home with the pop of her new singer “Walking In My Blue Jeans (from the re-released “Tingle,” [Trumpet Swan/Ryko]).
Given the fervor of her performance and her songs often messy emotions it was disconcerting to hear her backed by a dispassionately precise band; they seemed to be playing catch up all night. It was like someone setting the scene for a seduction by putting Journey on the stereo, But the mutual attraction between Hawkins and her fans was strong enough to withstand it.
By the time she stripped down to her T-shirt and unbuttoned jeans for “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover,” there was no doubt the relationship was consummated.