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Jesca Hoop
Kismet
The 3 Entertainment/Columbia Records
www.jescahoop.com


Similar to Regina Spektor and Imogen Heap, singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop is a female form unlike any before her. She sings as if her soul is possessed by an apparition from another time and resides in a land impregnable by mere mortals. This makes her sound like an extraterrestrial but her music is really very elegant and likeable with vocals that soar to Kate Havnevik's height and have their own folk musing reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan. Produced by Hoop, Damian Anthony and Tony Berg (Michael Penn, Edie Brickell, Bruce Hornsby), most of the songs on her debut album Kismet are written by Hoop and many have a countrified gypsy pumping in the rhythms and a Celtic folk lilt reflective of Loreena McKennitt. The songs have an old world charm and modern pop glint which gives them a theatrical flare and a well-endowed palette that is not confined to the borders set by pop music's doctrine. Hoop's artistic expressions are laudable and still project a social significance so her art isn't just for art's sake but is relatable to real people.

At the start, Hoop's vocals project a foreboding echo on the track "Summertime" along neo-folk shadings that are emblematic of Dido laced with country comforts. The polka-throttled rhythms on "Seed Of Wonder" have a folk dance pumping which show a Rasputina-sauciness. The gypsy-pop textures on "Money" are also infectiously upbeat and exude a Russian-folk dance stateliness with lyrics that have a relatable social factor: "Money, money makes the world go round/ Money, money will make you change your sound/ If the price is right/ If you want paper/ If you want gold and silver/ Sooner or later/ People pay for words from you/ Don't need to know yourself too well/ You could trade any saga you'd tell/ For the song you know will sell."

Other tracks show similarities to Celtic-folk music found in the bosoms of Ireland and Scandinavia like "Havoc In Heaven" and "Enemy." The mollified tones of the willowy acoustic instruments raking through songs like "Silver Screen" and "Love Is All We Have" seep of country comforts and ruminating vocals. Hoop's rhythmic vocals show a likeness to Regina Spektor's ruffles along the neo-folk valances of "Dreams In The Hallow" and the chamber pop melody "Love And Love Again" which dons vocal trills that engage in a ballroom dance with the chamber music strings and piano. The song breaks from the beaten path of neo-folk tints but works beautifully with Hoop's vocal resolutions. Her more upbeat soft-rock clasped tunes like the burlesque stylizing of "Out The Back Door" and the modern Baroque-pop incisions on "Intelligentactile 101" have a theatrical glare rigged with scalloped tones and bangles of drum loops similar to San Diego's modern-pop technicians Nurses.

Hoop's magnetism to theatrical-like pop melodies coincides with her upbringing in Northern California which, according to her bio, depicts her as a child who made theatre pieces for her family and friends. Her bio does not show classical training, though her album is an example of classicalism and elegance. Her break came when she was babysitting the children of singer-songwriter, Tom Waits, who passed Hoop's demo to DJ Nic Harcourt at the radio station KCRW in Los Angeles. Soon afterwards, she signed with 3 Entertainment/Columbia Records and Kismet is her debut on the label. They say that there are a billion ways to get a record deal and Jesca Hoop has found the billionth and one way to do it. Sometimes an accident can be a blessing... it's rare, but it can happen.

-Susan Frances


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