Review: “Whaler” by Sophie B. Hawkins (CD, 1994)

Today’s POP RESCUE is the 1994 second album Whaler by American singer, songwriter and musician, Sophie B Hawkins. Will you want this album Right Beside You, or is it like a beached Whale? Read on…

Sophie B Hawkins - Whaler (1994) album
Sophie B. Hawkins’ 1994 album ‘Whaler’

The album opens with the familiar sounding intro of hit single Right Beside You, with it’s great bassline and pacey drums. I’d be surprised if someone hasn’t made some epic dance version of this. Mind you, it is a great track, so why bother. Sophie’s vocals suit this song perfectly – she’s delicate and breathy.

Second track is the mellow Did We Not Choose Each Other, which is a perfect follow-on from the opening track, although the melody reminds me of Cyndi Lauper‘s Time After Time.

Next up is Don’t Don’t Tell Me No which is much more up-beat, with a slightly reminiscent of a Spanish feeling to its intro, and featuring some bells last heard at Christmas. This suddenly becomes a bouncing pop track that I could imagine B*Witched singing. This was the second single from the album, and reached #36 in the UK.

Third single As I Lay Me Down opens with a slight reminder of Maria McKee‘s Show Me Heaven, but as the song progresses all I can hear are the vocal tones of almost Belinda Carlisle. The track is light, catchy, and gave Sophie her final charting UK single in 1995, reaching #24. I don’t remember it.

Track Swing From Limb To Limb (My Home Is In Your Jungle) doesn’t sound promising from this weird over-sized title, but it’s a more up-beat, slightly 80s, and rockier song. It kind of chugs along nicely, but thankfully this wasn’t a single.

Next up is True Romance follows and acts as a great slow moving vehicle to showcase Sophie’s vocal range. It weighs in at 2m 33s, and is the shortest song on the album.

The pace increases for what was probably the opener of the album’s side B – Let Me Love You Up, which comes complete with plenty of French lyrics. There’s some catchy vocals, bass, and accordion sounds here. This is quite a nice track overall.

Final, and fifth single, Only Love (The Ballad Of Sleeping Beauty) is up next. It’s an okay song, but musically and lyrically I feel that it doesn’t really go very far. The previous track would probably have fared better with it’s stand out French styling.

Track I Need Nothing Else has a promising start with percussion and synth, and once again I hear vocals of Belinda Carlisle…….. over pan-pipes, before hitting a slightly more rockier sound just before the track reaches 2mins. This track isn’t catchy, and feels like a bit of a filler.

Penultimate track Sometimes I See in contrast, is a wonderful track. Again, it opens with percussion, but there’s piano here, some strings-esque synth layers, and Sophie’s delicate vocals return. It’s fairly chilled out, and I could imagine hearing this sung in a smoky jazz club. This jazz club feeling continues in the closing track Mr. Tugboat Hello, which sounds like a song from an old stage show, and wouldn’t have gone a-miss on the Dick Tracey soundtrack from Madonna.

Sophie B. Hawkins’ lead single ‘Right Beside You’

Where is Sophie B Hawkins now?

Sophie continued to write, record and release albums after this one, but failed to repeat the success she’d seen in the UK during the early 90s. After releasing a film of her tour, and leaving her record label due to disagreements related to her third album, she set up her own record label in 2001.

She has stared as Janis Joplin on stage, and has occasionally appeared on TV.


This album reached number 46 in the UK chart – exactly the same number as the debut album which was released on the back of hit single Damn, Wish I Was Your Lover (probably her biggest hit).

Rated 3 stars! It's a nice album.
  • POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1994 UK CHART POSITION: #46
  • POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Poundland store.

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