Sophie B. Hawkins saw widespread critical and commercial success with classics such as Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover and As I Lay Me Down, and since splitting with her record label in 1999 she has released 3 LPs on her own independent label. Her latest offering Free Yourself is a triumphant example of some of her best work yet. Whilst it contains a wide range of styles and influences, the underlying theme of the lyrics and the sultry timbre of her voice identifies it as a pure Sophie B. Hawkins classic.
Opening with the reflective and upbeat Love Yourself, S.B.H. begins the constant message of staying strong and true to yourself that is echoed in many of the songs on this record. With lyrics that state the importance of still loving oneself amidst all the noise of life, and a jangly instrumental, this song does a fantastic job of proving that good can always come of strife.
Coming in straight after is the fiery Better Off Without You. As the song title suggests, the lyrics are heavy with references to a punishing and toxic relationship but spun in a way that states the importance of remembering your self-worth even after emotional turmoil. Whilst the soft piano and sad chord progression may suggest a sad theme, you can’t help but draw some strength from the message of this song. Juxtaposed to that track is the titular song Free Myself as it jumps out both stylistically and lyrically. Beginning with a beautiful Spanish guitar intro and melancholy piano, S.B.H. waxes softly about someone who makes her feel safe and warm. This song is a standout on the album and has such a sweet blending of styles that is sure to make it a favourite of many listeners.
Fairy Tales and Angel In Disguise are some of the other highlights of the album, with the former containing sultry vocals and a country-infused instrumental, whilst the pounding bass kick of the latter providing an energetic backdrop to an emotional song about the transition into parenthood.
Free Myself is a brilliant addition to the rich back catalogue that Sophie B. Hawkins has created in her storied career, and her popularity shows no signs of waning as she continues to play sold-out tours in the US and bring new influences into her already diverse portfolio.