Review : Susanna Hoffs - Someday
SantmagazineSusanna Hoffs's affinity for the music of the '60s has informed her work with the Bangles, her "Sid n Susie" collaborations with Matthew Sweet, and her sporadic solo career, but she's never recorded as note-perfect an homage to the lush pop of that era as she has on Someday. Hoffs is a classicist at heart, and, nearly 30 years into her career, she's never sounded as natural and at ease as she does here. That's not to say that Someday is as essential a pop album as the Bangles' All Over the Place or Different Light, or that it's as refined as Hoffs's slept-on self-titled album from 1996, but the sincerity and warmth of the project make up for its few lapses in songwriting quality.
Stylistically, Someday makes for a natural extension of the Bangles' recent Sweetheart of the Sun in that it sounds more like an album that's been unearthed after 50 years than it does a contemporary recording. That's as much a credit to engineer David Boucher as it is to Hoffs and producer Mitchell Froom, as there are no traces of modern "loudness war" compression in the recording. Every instrument on Someday—and "Holding My Breath" alone boasts both string and brass sections and a fantastic clavinet run—has plenty of elbow room, and that depth and purity of sound contributes to the album's decidedly vintage vibe.
Froom's arrangements walk a fine line between careful, almost-reverent homage, and on-the-nose mimicry. The laidback groove of "This Is the Place" recalls the best of Donovan, while the subtle use of horns as texture on "Picture Me" is a thoughtful, effective nod to Burt Bacharach. Hoffs's music has always owed a massive debt to the Beatles, and that's reflected most unmistakably in "Raining" and the gorgeous opener "November Sun." If the production is somewhat affected overall, that's by design, but Froom's approach is light-handed enough not to pull focus from Hoffs's material or performances....full text
AllmusicSince the release of her last solo album in 1996, Susanna Hoffs has stayed busy with the re-formed Bangles for two albums and recording two albums of covers with her friend Matthew Sweet. The covers albums were nostalgic exercises and the Bangles albums were decent enough; the most recent one, 2011's Sweetheart of the Sun, even had some moments that nearly captured the feel of the band's earliest recordings. Judging from what she's been up to over the past 15 years, it would seem the most one could expect from a Hoffs solo album would be something nice but not much more than that. Surprisingly then, Someday ends up being some of the best music Hoffs has been associated with. Working with Nashville musician Andrew Brassell and producer Mitchell Froom, Hoffs creates an intimate and sweet album that frames her tender vocals with subtle arrangements that trade the jangle of the Bangles for an autumnally rich chamber pop sound. Strings, horns, even clarinets fill the spaces around her unassuming melodies and gently strummed guitars. Hoffs sounds relaxed and peaceful throughout the album; unlike on her previous solo work, it doesn't sound like she's desperately looking for a hit. That's not to say the songs are in any way not completely catchy and filled with hooks; they are, and most of the album would fit in perfectly on an adult-oriented radio station. Hoffs and Brassell write easily hummable choruses and punchy little pop songs. "Picture Me" bops along like a bruised Dusty Springfield song, "Raining" (a song she first started writing in 1989 with Heartbreaker Mike Campbell) is an insistent jangle pop heartbreaker with a lovely chorus, "This Is the Place" chugs along happily with a distant horn section punctuating Hoffs' sweet words of love. The ballads are nice, too -- Hoffs isn't the most expressive singer ever but she can wring some emotion out of simple melodies (with lots of help from Froom's very expressive arrangements). And the little crack in her voice she uses now and then works like a magic charm. In fact, the entire album has a low-key magic that is made all the more powerful by being such an unexpected treat. It's pretty rare that someone would make the best record of her career so far into it; Hoffs has done it, though, and Someday is an album perfect for not only her fans, but also fans of well-crafted, emotionally true adult pop....full text
MxdwnIn the mid ’80s, The Bangles’ brand of catchy bubblegum pop was the antidote to the flashiness of the likes of Madonna or the immaturity of Debbie Gibson. They had a few huge and deserving hits, and then were gone. Susanna Hoffs released a couple of solo albums—the last one in 1996—as well as two collections of cover songs with Matthew Sweet in 2006. Hoffs’ solo efforts have been coolly received, as they attempted to recapture that old Bangle jangle. The Bangles reunited as well, releasing the nostalgic-sounding Sweetheart of the Sun last year. But with her latest, Someday, the diminutive, dreamy-voiced Hoffs appears to have found a new—and fitting—sound.
At 53-years-young, Hoffs sounds as pure as ever. The difference is this time it is over a backdrop that is both retro and contemporary, as opposed to anachronistic. There are elements of ’60s lush girl-pop in the string arrangements and bouncy melodies, like a smoother She and Him, but the singer-songwriter feel brings to mind Dar Williams and Shawn Colvin. Most of the songs were co-written with guitarist Andrew Brassell of the gritty indie-rock outfit, And The Relatives, escorting Hoffs into the 21st century. The first single, “Always Enough,” shows just how rewarding well-constructed pop music can be, with its seemingly simple structure that slights off into unexpected directions. The album starts off with “November Sun,” a sing-songy gem that leads with Hoffs’ ageless vocals. There is something refreshing about those first lovely notes....full text
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