Elle chante tres belle! And her writing is superb. Sophie may bring to mind Madonnaesque writing and singing until the maturity and lusciousness of songs such as "Only Love (The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty)," "True Romance," and "As I Lay Me Down" establish art of breadth. Although the lyrics are slightly cryptic, anyone can relate to their plaintive declaration of classically romantic love. Whaler is the only Sophie album I've listened to; thus, there is no reference point to her other work. Nevertheless, I was skeptical in purchasing Whaler, having only heard the radio hit, "As I Lay Me Down." Oftentimes, radio hits are album highlights. On Whaler, "As I lay me Down" is the average. To me, "Only Love (The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty) and "True Romance" are better songs than "As I Lay Me Down." These songs are slow torch songs. "Right Beside You," (Song #1) is fast with a big synthesized sound; however, Sophie is best with slow torch songs.
Incredibly, Sophie's musical breadth encompasses Broadway (e.g., Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber): Tunes such as "Mr. Tugboat Hello" and "Let Me Love You Up" juxtapose "As I Lay Me Down," proving Whaler the profound work that it is. Sophie says, "J `ai un regrette et mes chansons," meaning that she is left with regret and her songs. (I've never experienced such writing in a female singer before that takes sorrow in life and transforms it into joy.) Might we all be better for suffering?
Whaler is a celebration of life for romantics that will overtake you with joy in a few listenings (or immediately). You have to take all of Whaler's parts as a whole, which flows like warm honey--the lyrics and melody from song #1 to song #11; this is very satisfying!
My favorite song is "Only Love (The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty). The childish title does not detract from the beauty and seriousness of this song. She, like me, believes in the unreal. For example, Belle loved the Beast in spite of his ugly face, because he REALLY needed her, and his ugly face could not eclipse his true love for her.
I look forward to more Sophie, who is a little Madonna, a little Natalie Merchant, a little Andrew Lloyd Webber, and a lot of Sophie B. Hawkins. . . .