Susanna Hoffs Biography

Review The Artist (1)

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"A lot has happened between my last record and this one," states Susanna Hoffs, discussing her self-titled London Records debut disc. "In a funny way, it almost feels like this is my first album."

The artist's current feeling of exhilaration is well-placed. Susanna Hoffs is something of a milestone in the L.A.-bred singer/songwriter/guitarist's recording career, achieving new levels of emotional clarity and hard-won insight while maintaining the effortlessly accessible pop appeal that's been a hallmark of Hoffs' work since her years with the much-loved Bangles.

Susanna Hoffs features twelve new songs, most of them written by Hoffs in collaboration with such notables as former Go-Go's member Charlotte Caffey, Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse, David Lowery of Cracker and noted songwriter/musicians David Baerwald and David Kitay. The latter pair coproduced much of the album along with Hoffs and rising studio star Jack Joseph Puig. Matt Wallace also produced one track. The collection also boasts a stellar musical cast including Caffey, Linkous, Jellyfish graduates Jason Falkner and Roger Manning, renowned session players Jim Keltner, Greg Leisz and Jon Brion, rock legend Mick Fleetwood, Cracker alumnus Davey Faragher and Four Non Blondes frontwoman Linda Perry, as well as members of such bands as That Dog, Wire Train and American Music Club.

Though Hoffs has obviously been keeping some interesting company, the real news here is the songs themselves, which showcase an expanded lyrical palette that attests to the artist's life-altering experiences during the last few years. "Most of these songs, in one way or another, deal with things that have happened to me in the time since the last record," she explains.

"'Darling One' was kind of inspired by the breakdown of my relationship with my last record company; it's about feeling sort of lost and adrift and trying to find a way out of that. 'Falling' is about exploring the feelings of vulnerability, fear and losing control that comes along with falling in love, and how that's liberating and exciting in a certain weird way. And 'Eyes of a Baby' is about the experience of getting involved with someone and having a baby, which is the hardest and most rewarding job I've ever had." Hoffs became a parent in early 1995.

Additionally, "Happy Place" was inspired by the singer's reactions to a friend's nervous breakdown. "Enormous Wings" is an atmospheric adult fairy tale which borrows its haunting imagery from a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. "Weak with Love" invokes the powerful emotions surrounding the death of John Lennon. And 'Grand Adventure' offers wry observations on life and love via a roll call of old boyfriends. But the unmistakably grown-up wisdom of her new compositions hasn't blunted Hoffs' sense of pop songcraft, which remains as sharp as ever throughout the album, as evidenced by her personalized reworking of the Lighting Seeds' pure-pop neo-classic 'All I Want.'

"I think that these songs span a pretty wide range, musically and emotionally," notes Hoffs. "Hopefully the people who liked what I did before will still hear the same influences that propelled me in the Bangles. I still love pop melodies and jangly guitars and all that stuff, and I think that all of those things are present on this album."

During their eight-year lifespan, the Bangles rose from L.A.'s cultish "Paisley Underground" scene to achieve platinum-level success, bringing and organic pop sensibility back to 80's airwaves while serving as a role model for a generation of female rockers. "I think that the music we did was special,"says Hoffs, "and I hope that we made some sort of dent in the world. At the time, everyone made such a big deal about the fact that we were all girls in a band together. The idea of an all-female band was treated as a novelty at the time, and now it誷 accepted. And maybe we played some small part in that change."

Hoffs launched her solo career in 1991 with the ironically-titled "When You誶e A Boy." Though it was well-received by the public (and spawned a hit in 'My Side of the Bed'), that album's birth cycle proved to be something of a trial of fire for the artist. "In a certain way, it was an exercise in learning what I didn?t want to do," she reflects. "I was feeling a lot of pressure to get something out there, and there were also these overwhelming expectations about how commercial it should be. My own sense of who I was and what I wanted to do kind of got lost. I was ignoring my instincts, which is the worst thing that an artist can do."

The experience of being thrown head-first into a solo career eventually forced Hoffs to reassess may aspects of her musical life. "It was very painful and frustrating at the time, but it was beneficial to me in the long run," she reflects. The lessons learned from that experience are reflected throughout Susanna Hoffs. "I'm just so proud of this record," she beams. "My only goal was to make something that I could really be comfortable with, something that didn't feel false to me, and I think we achieved that."

"My experiences during the last few years have kind of taken me back full circle, to the feelings that originally drew me to music," concludes Hoffs. "Now I feel like everything was for a reason, because now it feels so good to be doing this that I just keep pinching myself. These songs come from a very truthful place, and my goal now is just to keep making music that feels real and honest and comfortable."

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Susanna Hoffs | Reviewer: | 9/21/2008

As a follower of Ms Hoffs from the Eighties to the present, I am constantly pleased with her endearing combination of talent, beauty, and good old "Girl-Next-Door" sweetness... Her voice, her guitar, and her songwriting are refreshing, and I certainly hope to hear much more from her in the years to come... Bangle On!!

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