Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dizzy ground

Her music is layered with sweet melodies and sober realities. She is a singer songwriter which may instantly give you a picture of just another girl on stage with an acoustic guitar and a prayer, but once the song starts to emerge from Jesca Hoop, all conventions of her genre classification melt away.

Since a posting about Jesca Hoop cannot be published without the mention that she was once a nanny to the children of Tom Waits, I'll start with that. Although I must admit that one of my favorite descriptions of Jesca's music comes from Waits himself (according to her Wiki page) who says, "Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night." I couldn't agree more. Listening to her songs is like diving into something dark, yet warm and magical.

Jesca Hoop first appeared on the radar of the Los Angeles music scene when Nic Harcourt of KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic first started playing a demo she had submitted called Seed of Wonder. The song became so popular with listeners that it set a record for the number of times it was requested to be played on the show. Her debut album Kismet (which means destiny or fate) shows a colorful array of songs that force you to remember what a full and well rounded album actually sounds like. Songs such as Summertime, Money, and Intelligentactile 101 have a fun yet quirky pop sensibility and then as soon as you think you have her pegged she changes pace with songs such as Enemy, Love is All We Have (written about Hurricane Katrina), and Love and Love Again. Incorporating natural sounds such as the cawing of birds and echoes of a creaky boat into her songs, Jesca creates a landscape with her music and asks her listeners to stop and breathe it in.

In late 2008 Jesca Hoop released the ep called Kismet Acoustic which featured a handful of songs from her debut album in a stripped down acoustic style as well as a new song called Murder of Birds. This new song is one of those rare gems in my music collection, the song that can't be heard enough. The song seems to be invoke the spirit of a playful spring-time walk with a lover. It then subtly changes in tone when the lyrics speak of personal demons only to welcome you back into comfort with images of home-baked bread and turned down beds. Haunting yet sweet, it is a complex lullaby and I can't seem to help wanting to listen one more time.

Murder of Birds - Jesca Hoop

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