08/15/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT
Sophie B. Hawkins
Sophie B. Hawkins needs to find herself. On the follow-up to her 1992 debut, Tongues and Tails, which spawned the Top 5 single "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover," she seems to think she's every woman. Though Hawkins's new songs are crisp and catchy, when she starts switching personas—she's knowingly sexy one moment, sweetly innocent the next—and musical poses, Whaler becomes a puzzler. It's impressive that she can tackle bouncy hip-turners ("Don't Don't Tell Me No" and "The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty"), Deborah Harry mannerisms ("Let Me Love You Up"), ersatz drama ("I Need Nothing Else") and even a borderline show tune ("Mr. Tugboat Hello"), but her supple vocals, which sound a lot like Madonna
in her early fluff-pop mode, aren't distinctive enough to make them all cohere. Whaler would be more satisfying if Hawkins had chosen one road and avoided detours. (Columbia)"