This week saw the release of Jesca Hoop’s new album ‘The Complete Kismet Acoustic‘ which you can stream in full below. There’s no mistaking her sound, idiosyncratic lyrics are part of her whole make up…she’s been writing them since the age of 14 to sing on the way to school. Her upbringing by Mormon parents in Northern California (she’s now based in Manchester, UK) introduced her to traditional folk song and harmonies but at 16 she escaped that life and left home to live a ‘life as a racoon’ as she calls it.She became a homesteader living off the grid…that link with nature is a strong one, she was a wilderness survival guide and developed other complimentary skills such as carpentry…but those songs were never far from her mind, sharing them with friends around camp-fires and porches. In 2004 she recorded her Silverscreen Demos followed three years later by her début release ‘Kismet’ (2007). The album brought interest from afar and prominent fans such as Tom Waits.
‘The Complete Kismet Acoustic‘ is, as the name suggests, acoustic versions of tracks that appeared on her début along with two new tracks. If I was forced to pick I’d say this outweighs her début and anything in between…her greatest strength is her voice. She is a singer of the greatest kind…curling those vocals sounds around words unlike anyone else, she gives them a life of their own, like toys in the hands of a curious child.
The opening ‘Silverscreen‘ is quirky, playful, sexy and brilliant. There is no drop in that initial wow factor…it threads right the way through this album. The usual comparisons to Regina Spektor don’t add up on this album…on Enemy, a song that comes from a myth she was taught as a child, the harmonies resemble primitive flutes, a closer comparison to the psych-folk of Mariee Sioux whilst the mantra like choruses of ‘Seed of Wonder‘ call to mind the quirky folk of Larkin Grimm.
Subtle chords allow her voice to soar heavenwards on ‘Love is all we have‘ a song about Hurricane Katrina that really tugs at the heart strings…
the old church bell
is in the graveyard
the old church bell
ohhh lace and stone
the naked feet
pound the pavement
of nameless streets
ohhh faceless homes
but deep in the heart of
a prayer for new orleans
love me know now is all we have
love me now love is all we ever really had
Her lyrics are creative and unlike any others…who else would come up with ‘Intelligentactile 101 a song from the womb:
Can i borrow your bones and marrow
till i get my own
lovely lovely lovely bones till i get my own
i won’t tell me new friends that they’re on loan
they won’t know
it’s no smart thing to do when you’re far from home
can i borrow your skin blushin to get lucky in
lucky lucky lucky with a special friend
well i hear that on planet earth that it’s a sing big sin
well all the more fun for me to get lucky then
Thanks to the acoustic stripped back production this album was in many ways a personal rediscovery of Jesca Hoop in all her greatness. Tom Waits once said “her music is like going swimming in a lake at night”…I couldn’t agree more only on this release the after-effects are a lot longer lasting. Her best album to date by far!