Hawkins' resume already indicates a talent of stature before this fine debut album even hits the street.

Hawkins' resume already indicates a talent of stature before this fine debut album even hits the street. With more than a year on Broadway as a lead in the smash, "Rent," as writer of top 10 hits for Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle and several years as a highly sought-after background singer, Hawkins, with husband, co-writer and producer, Jamie Hawkins, delivers an album that is dazzling, diverse and distinctively her own.

With perfectly placed swatches of R&B, pop, jazz, hip-hop and rock, and a voice that can as readily wail as caress, Hawkins delivers songs and a sound that sparkle with depth and originality. The title song puts a rock edge on a hard funk groove, leaving smoke in its wake, with a perfect segue into the quiet fire of "It's Like Air." Hawkins is almost heavenly on the guitar-and-percussion-driven "Crazy," and builds from a whisper to a roar on the dramatic ballad "What A Man." And what a woman. Hawkins' first time out shows all the markings of a serious career-in-the-making. -- Gordon Ely

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print