Thea Hopkins possesses a voice and style that are so unique and brilliant that you wonder why the rest of the world has not yet caught on. She is sultry and sensuous, serious and playful, mysterious and fascinating all at once. She is reminiscent of the great torch singers, but also has a modern and contemporary sound which she shares with the likes of Sarah McLaughlin and Natalie Merchant. The bottom line is that she knows how to take an audience on a ride that touches the full range of human emotions.
Chickasaw is her sophomore release—a worthy follow-up to the classic songs of her 2001 debut, Birds of Mystery. Chickasaw is subtitled "American short story folk," and indeed, the many wonderful songs here truly do tell a story about people living on the edge of love, of luck, and of life.
An air of romance, of earth-shattering love and lust, permeates the richly sensual Rows and Rows of Stars. David Goodrich colors Thea's gorgeous vocals with his superb work on guitar and piano. This is a song you can just drift away on—you don't want it to end.
The Edge of Geary brings back images of a small-town childhood as it appears in memory. Thea's soft, sultry alto rises to meet Chris Thompson's harmony vocals. Ian Kennedy shines on violin.
Every one of us has a story about choosing the wrong lover—the one who is too good to be true. Once There Was a Lover describes just this kind of false suitor. It is one of the recording's best cuts:
The Weather Turns is so hauntingly beautiful a song that its melody and lyrics stay with you long after you have listened to it. Natalie Haas on cello helps to create an air of melancholy and mystery. Thea's voice caresses the lyrics with her special magic.
Dave Goodrich, on resonator guitar, opens the title track, Chickasaw" This is a classic song of love gone badly and irrevocably wrong.
There are so many great songs here, I could address each and every one of them. But none is as moving as the revised version of Thea's riveting Jesus is on the Wire, which has been covered by Peter, Paul and Mary. Here she paints a picture of an unforgettable landscape, and a day that will go down in our collective memory. This song is a modern classic.
The beauty of Thea's voice is matched by the brilliance of her lyrics. Some singers know how to sing and others know how to write. Thea Hopkins draws you in with her sensual, sultry voice, but keeps your attention by wrapping that voice around beautiful melodies and wonderful stories. She's a marvelous talent. Get lost in her mystery. You may never want to be found.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2007, Peterborough Folk Music Society Roberta B. Schwartz.
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