16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2000
What with the Bangles reunion happening as we speak, why not take a moment to honor this wonderful neglected gem of a pop album?
In direct contrast to her first piece-of-garbage solo effect When You're A Boy, Susanna Hoffs' 1996 self-titled effort showcases her strengths perfectly. With an ultra-cool supporting cast (Matthew Sweet, Jon Brion, Charlotte Caffey, Jellyfish's Roger Manning and Jason Faulkner, That Dog's Petra and Rachel Haden) and clean but ever-so-slightly-edgy production of the consistantly melodic, interesting, and lyrically intimate songs, Susanna did everything right on this album. It didn't do her much good commercially, but hopefully she'll get her reward in Pop heaven.
There's the gorgeous seductive pop of "Falling", the keen Aimee Mann-esque character sketch "Beekeeper's Blues", the crunchy, grungy "Enormous Wings", the heartbreakingly gorgeous "Darling One", and the deceptively sprightly "King Of Tragedy". There's the Lightning Seeds classic which Susanna turned into a (very) minor hit, "All I Want". And then there's the duo of wonderful (and uncredited) covers at the record, "To Sir With Love" and "Stuck In The Middle With You" (which, incidentally, you don't have to buy the Japanese version to hear). Susanna's voice is slightly huskier then usual throughout but it works perfectly for the material.
A brilliant power pop album for anyone who reveres the likes of Michael Penn, Aimee Mann and Matthew Sweet, and a welcome return to form for Susanna following a nasty, nasty fall from grace brought on by egomania and misguided artistic decisions. "Eternal Flame" and When You're A Boy can fall of the face of the earth for all I care, but I'll love this album until the day I die.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I've got it all, from rock to classical, and this rates as one of my favorite CD's. It's one of those very rare pieces where you can just put it in the player and let the whole thing run. It's wonderfully well-written and Susanna's voice, well it just gives me chills. This is not like Bangles rock, this is more alternative music. My favorite songs are...well...ALL OF THEM! Falling and Eyes of my baby are stunning. And yes, the bonus tracks of To Sir with Love and Stuck in the Middle just plain rock! I've managed to get several friends hooked on this as well, one of the perils of hanging around me. I love it, I play it over and over all the time.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2012
I'll keep this review short. I could talk about Susanna all day. I'll start by saying that I recently read an article concerning her new album "Someday" (which you also need to buy because it is top shelf) and the writer referred to this album (self titled) as banal. This offended me. He obviously has either not listened to this album or has a bad ear and shouldn't be writing music reviews. I loved this album. Everyone has their favorite tracks but I think I'll have to cast my vote for "Grand Adventure"... I have 42,000 + songs in my itunes and Grand Adventure is in my top 25 (#7 at the moment) along with the other legends. The Beatles currently hold my #1 spot. Susanna holds quite a few spots on my top 25 including some stuff with Matthew Sweet. I can't get enough of the covers that they do. "Hello It's Me", "Different Drum", "Got To Get You Into My Life", "And Your Bird Can Sing"( which is odd because my Beatles version of that song is currently at 105) are all in my top 25. Covering Beatles songs is a pet peave of mine. I normally frown on it. Now that I think about it, with the exception of Joe Cocker, she is the only one that I can think of who can do a Beatles cover and get away with it. She gets it....she understands what it is meant to be. She is classy, sweet, and doesn't see to have an ego. Of course, I may be biased. I have had a crush on her since the 80s. ------> back to the album. This album sadly did not get the reception it deserves. It stands among her best and is my personal favorite of the solo albums with the caveat that music becomes part of you and "Someday" is too new to say how I will feel about it in a couple years. "Someday" is fantastic but this album is an old friend and "Someday" is a new friend ......Oh and be on the lookout for an EP that will have another Beatles cover that she performed at her "Someday" album release party..... All I've Gotta Do... and she knocked it out of the ball park. Grand slam! It was nice to see her do such an early Beatles song. I guess this review wasn't short after all. Sorry, but after all of that typing I am not erasing it. Oh and do yourselves a favor and buy "Under The Covers Vol 1 and Vol 2 and Vol3 (when it comes out) along with the "Pillowcase EP" If you like her and Matthew you will love these remakes and it will give you years of nostalgia and enjoyment. Long live Susanna Lee!
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Those who expected songs that might be titled "On Your Side Of The Bed" or would have formed the Bangles fourth album, think again! Susanna Hoffs has teamed up with songwriters including David Baerwald, late of the short-lived 80's duo David & David. The songs are acoustic, folky, and more like Aimee Mann, although there are some sounds closer to alternative. There is a bittersweet touch in some of her songs. Her sugary voice sometimes becomes grainy and hoarse when she tries to hit the high notes, but overall it's recognizable and sweet.
"Beekeeper's Blues" is lover's karma. The woman has been burned in tangling with some slick lady's man, but bravely and stoically says, "No good deed will go unpunished/No beekeeper goes unstung" And there is a nod to Nancy Sinatra when she sings "and these boots are made for walking".
"All I Want" is a dreamy but mid-paced semi alt-rock number, where she basically wants to follow her feelings and make a difference for tomorrow, because tomorrow's here. "All I want to say/is everything I feel from now on". And whoever is around had better listen to what she says.
"Enormous Wings" begins with Susanna speaking through a tape recorder, which repeats the verses in a weird distorted backing vocal in the verses, then exploding with an expansive alternative-rock guitar sound. I can't imagine this on any Bangles album or Hoff's debut, When You're A Boy.
"Falling", co-written by Charlotte Caffey and with drums by Mick Fleetwood, has a light-alternative sound.
A more melodic sound is present in the tender acoustic guitar/piano ballad "Darling One". This is one of the two favourites here. She offers a shoulder of comfort for someone searching for that something not lost.
"King Of Tragedy" with its steady pulsing bass and drumbeat, and a bluesy guitar, is about a guy with a girlfriend a cross between Gwenyth Paltrow, Emma Peel, and Kathy Lee--hard to picture that one. Anyway, the protagnist is emotionally bound to help this guy, especially when he presses her guilt button.
"Eyes Of A Baby" is about a blind date that becomes a dream come true. "Did you see him smile?" she sings triumphantly. Things go from "eyes of my baby/eyes of my man" to "eyes of my baby/eyes of a child", i.e. they've taken that step beyond. Love that snarling altenative fuzz guitar. A similar sound is evoked on "Happy Place."
"Those Days Are Over" is a reunion between two people. The man was lost in a drunken haze and now he's returned, apparently renewed. The tempo is languid but lacks anything that tugs at me.
With 8 December 1980 mentioned, people familiar with that date will know what this song is about. The appropriately titled "Weak With Love" brought memories of John Lennon's death flooding back, and she tells of how shocked her brother was upon hearing the news, that he says, "I do not want to tell you this" and "would not meet my eyes": "Please comfort me/and shelter me/I am weak with love" she sings. This is my favourite song here and serves as a great way to end the album, fitting as the Beatles were an obvious influence to the Bangles.
The two hidden tracks are cover songs, Stealer Wheels' "Stuck In The Middle" and Lulu's "To Sir With Love." She does a great job on both, particularly the latter. The soaring strings are replicated on that song. As for the other, there's a nice bluesy guitar with that 70's wacka wacka guitar sound, but also a blast of searing fuzz guitar.
The results are mixed, and it shows she can handle a more laid back sound as well as alternative. It doesn't always work but it shows she's evolved from the Bangles and the pop of her debut album. Worthy effort worth listening to.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2001
Remember the Bangles, the band that was wildly popular in the 1980's? Well, this little lady was their lead singer. I recently purchased this CD, and I must say that this album demonstrates that Susanna Hoffs is a wonderfully talented musician. This CD is packed with well-written songs (Susanna was a contributing writer for most of them) that include infectious, soaring melodies carried by the voice of an angel.
This is a predominately folksy soft rock album, which in some instances could pass for today's modern crossover country music. In fact, on the opening track, "Beekeeper's Blues," Susanna could almost pass for one of my favorite country singers, Deana Carter. Susanna's voice closely resembles Deana's, especially when she sings such a country-sounding song.
"Beekeeper Blues" is a wonderfully entertaining opening track, and after that Susanna keeps rolling out the excellent songs on this disc. "Darling One" is a particular favorite; it's a dreamy, beautiful song, graced by Susanna's soothing vocals and the steady strumming of her guitar, which almost feels like a gentle caress. "Eyes of a Baby" is another gem, a clever song about meeting a man and starting a family. This album has upbeat pop music; groovy, funky rhythms; and soft, introspective ballads. Susanna has the confidence to persuasively deliver the range of tunes, and her voice is mesmerizing on all of them.
Don't take the lack of a hit single as evidence this album is not worth your money. To the contrary, one listen to this album makes you wonder WHY nobody ever paid much attention to it. This is an excellent CD!!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2012
This is Susanna Hoffs (formerly of the Bangles) second solo release. The difference between her first release and this one, is like night and day. She surrounded herself with top rated artists for this recording. I for one think this CD is outstanding. The old Susanna we all love is back big time. Her sexy, gravel laced voice is what her fans ears remember. Even though this CD didn't do well on the charts, you will not be disappointed, in fact you will be pleasantly surprised. The reason for it not doing well as far as I'm concerned, is her first release flopped so monumentally, that it left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, and made people gun shy.
If you love that sexy sweet voice of Susanna Hoffs, you need this CD for your collection. Preview one of the cuts "All I Want", both audio and video. This song alone will sell you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2007
Nothing beats buying an album that doesn't try to be anthing but good listening. Where she disappeared to after this I don't know, but it's almost as if Ms. Hoffs knew she was going away and just wanted to leave a little something behind to show what she was like as a solo artist. The songs are most the most part a little more original than usual and very nicely sung and produced. The two hidden tracks are quirky takes on 70s(?) AM radio standards that turn out cool.
on December 12, 2014
This album is fantastic. The songs are all great and Hoff's voice has a smokey edge to it which, along with the production value, gives the whole album a timeless quality. Had this album been released recently within the past few years, I think people wouldn't know that these songs dated back to 1996. Had this been her first solo outing, who knows what levels her career would have taken. In hindsight, this album will shine once it's truly discovered. Hoffs first solo, When You're A Boy, was released quickly after the Bangles had disbanded and will go down in history as the best Cyndi Lauper album that never existed. It was an extremely catchy album, but it didn't embrace the edgier sounds as the follow up did and it suffered, mainly because the heavy pop theme didn't match the direction in which women were taking music at that time in the 90's. The end of The Bangles really marked an end of an era and When You're A Boy just wasn't meant to be. I really hope more listeners would discover the brilliance of this album. It's one of a very few that I own that can be enjoyed in it's entirety with absolutely no need to skip a song. Hoffs own writing, pared with the the valuable music lessons she gives younger listeners with the three covers on the record, makes it a privilege to listen to. The good news is The Bangles reunited and have had 2 albums out since, Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs have done 3 volumes of Under the Covers, and Hoffs 3rd solo release Someday has been received with critical acclaim.
on March 25, 2013
I was going to write a review comparing Susanna Hoffs three albums:
1991 - When you're a Boy
1996 - (self titled) Susanna Hoffs
2012 - Someday
I finally gave up. The fact is, they're all equally good. Yes, there are tracks I like a lot, and some I don't (but if Susanna is happy with all of them, well, that's all that matters.
Although I read "When you're a Boy" was not a commercial success, I like it a lot and encourage you to search it out.
If you can't get enough Bangles, you should enjoy exploring Susanna's solo work.
on October 21, 1999
This is a much better CD than her first effort--while there aren't a lot a stunners here, there are no clinkers. All I Wanted and Beekeeper's Blues are standouts and she seems to be developing a really good songwriting gene. I do advise you to buy the Japanese version--the covers of To Sir With Love and Gerry Rafferty's Stuck In The Middle With You are worthy of one whole star. The latter is done with/re-built by Matthew Sweet and it kicks more than her whole CD!