This is the long awaited new album from another veteran of the music business, silent for ten years. Lest we forget, Hawkins includes among the bonus tracks some acoustic versions of Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover and As I Lay Me Down. Question is, was this worth the ten year wait?
No doubt about the quality of the song writing or about the interpretation of the songs, Hawkins remains an impressive, emotional performer. But the years have not been kind to Hawkins voice. She reminds me of Elkie Brooks without the power; a husky vibrato that sounds like she’s finished a singalong marathon on whiskey and cigarettes; a one-time great white voice that may be past its best.
There are some good songs on this; Gone Baby, Betchya Got a Cure for Me among them. There are also too many slow tracks, the one stand-out being Missing a deeply personal family ballad with really strong lyrics (avoid the Original Demo version of Missing among the bonus tracks, it’s a horrible fingernails-down-the-blackboard experience).
A Child is a bit Marvin Hamlisch circa 1978, which suddenly segues into Gershwins’ Summertime and back. It’s bold and interesting if not entirely successful. Dream Street is a wonderfully smokey evocation of late night jazz clubs with Hawkins voice at its gentle best til about half way, when she starts competing with her younger self.
The Crossing is an admirable portmanteau of variety and ambition. As well as all of the lead vocals, Hawkins plays piano, percussion, drums and strings on the album and is credited as the producer and engineer of all but one track (the single remix of Betchya Got A Cure For Me.)
In other words, this is a solo album in the true sense, so it stands or falls on Hawkins vision and execution of it. Sometimes it is an odd production, Hawkins the hard working drummer often sounds like she’s been shut in a packing crate.
While Red Bird stands comparison with Carol King and Carly Simon, the new acoustic version of Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover is cracked, off the top of her range, while the acoustic As I Lay Me Down only serves as a reminder how good she used to be. The Crossing is an album I wanted to like more than I do. SC