GRAMMY-nominated, platinum-selling artist, and prolific songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins, who enjoyed two of the biggest hits of the ‘90s with iconic singles “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” and “As I Lay Me Down” returns with her first new album in eleven years: Free Myself (Lightyear Entertainment), out on April 7 on CD and vinyl and available digitally from March 24.
The album came to life after a tumultuous period that Hawkins refers to as “my personal tsunami,” which included splitting with her longtime partner and returning to New York after 17 years in Venice, California. “I came back to where I’m from and decided to have my second child, and through all that, and from all that, this album came to be,” says Hawkins.
Also a passionate activist, she’s emphatically supported such causes as environmental protection, animal rights, and LGBTQ+ equality, unceasingly using her platform for positive change as the culture slowly caught up to the forward-thinking outlook she’d espoused all along.
Her seventh studio album and featuring some of her most emotionally powerful material to date, Free Myself immediately affirms Sophie B. Hawkins as a truly essential and authentic artist. As she reflects on what has been a trailblazing, revolutionary career, Free Myself sees her embarking on a new creative chapter of independence and positivity, expanding on the colourful eclecticism that has always permeated her music, encompassing everything from folk to Americana to soul to Brill Building pop. Full track listing is below.
In a departure from the self-contained process behind her last album, 2012’s The Crossing, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist co-produced alongside engineer Ken Rich (Ani DiFranco, Ingrid Michaelson), working with musicians like pianist/string arranger Andrew Sherman to shape the album’s gritty but graceful sound.
Ahead of the album release, Hawkins shared opening track “Love Yourself,” a soul-stirring piece of symphonic pop about confidence and the way we talk about ourselves. And in February, released her anti-Valentine single “Better Off Without You”, about which she commented: “I used to think ‘Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover,’ but now I realize I’m ‘Better Off Without You’.”
Directed by Nigel Dick (Britney Spears’ “... Baby One More Time”, “Oops!... I Did It Again”, Cher’s “Believe”), the live performance video showcases the next level chemistry Sophie and her band have, and the magic they create when performing together in the studio.
Hawkins emerged as a vibrant force on the musical landscape with the arrival of her platinum-selling, debut album Tongues and Tails, and its iconic lead single “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover.” She defied categorisation and embraced her individuality by embodying a daring fluidity as a musician, working with some of the most creative musicians of the era on her debut album. She also challenged the norms of gender expression and sexual orientation at a time when political, social, and sexual labels were more rigid. Her ever-evolving career has included releasing six widely beloved albums, breaking chart records with her smash hit “As I Lay Me Down,” four worldwide singles from Whaler, songs in cultural touchstone TV shows and films (from recent hits Stranger Things, Euphoria, Ozark, and PEN15, to landmark series Beverly Hills, 90210, Dawson’s Creek, The L Word and more), and a starring role as Janis Joplin in the critically acclaimed musical Room105.
Sophie discovered her passion for music at the young age of four, began studying percussion with world-renowned African musician Babatunde Olatunji in her early teens, got her start playing in historic venues like CBGB, and later landed her first professional gig as a percussionist for the legendary Bryan Ferry. Her acclaimed 1992 album Tongues and Tails achieved massive global success and earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist, vaulting Hawkins into the limelight and revealing her as a cultural luminary way ahead of her time. Hawkins’s sophomore album Whaler yielded the chart-topping ballad “As I Lay Me Down,” which shattered records as longest-running hit single on the Billboard charts in American music history, spending 67 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart (including six weeks at the No. 1 spot). Hawkins continued to expand her artistic reach with her third album Timbre, praised by Rolling Stone for “showcas[ing] a singer who has honed and gathered her various vocal styles—somber folk singer, saucy pop gal, note-bending jazz chanteuse—into a sleek, multifaceted whole”), Wilderness (one of her most musically layered offerings), and The Crossing (an intimate document of such life-changing experiences as the death of her father and the birth of her first child, Dashiell).
A dynamic creative force, Sophie has always been fully involved in every aspect of the production of her records, from background vocals and playing her own instruments as a multi-instrumentalist, to engineering and production of her albums. She has proved to be an enduring artist with a fierce commitment to artistic integrity while both constantly evolving and remaining steadfastly true to her own authentic history and experience which connects her to her fans at the very deepest levels.
“One thing I’ve heard from people is that my songs have been like teachers to them, and helped them along on their journey,” Hawkins says. “With this new album and with all of my music, I hope it helps people to feel more connected to their own heart. I hope it brings them closer to whatever makes them feel so special and valuable, and makes them feel like they’re here on this planet for a reason. That’s what the music I love most has always done for me.”