Release Date: Jun 26, 2012
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Over four previous albums, singer and songwriter Jesca Hoop has been well-received for standing on the edges of indie folk, a raw-visioned outsider whose work has been in compared in some quarters to Devendra Banhart's and Joanna Newsome's (inaccurately in both cases). She has a compelling biography, but her ken for writing beautiful, strange songs is unassailable. Previously, they have been presented with rather minimal production.
For a while, it was quite easy to know a lot about Jesca Hoop without knowing any of her music – coming to our attention via Guy Garvey’s fervent praise, the Californian arrived on British shores from the unlikely previous position as nanny to Tom Waits’ children. That these two (admittedly very impressive) references are still the most popular stories anyone can tell you about the young singer-songwriter suggests that while her two previous albums have shown promise, they’ve yet to yield any truly sparkling jewels. If Hoop had arrived in the UK with The House That Jack Built under her arm, it might be a very different story.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Jesca Hoop's back story – a Mormon upbringing, a period sleeping out in the wilderness, a job nannying Tom Waits's kids – is how little eccentricity it seems to have conferred on her music. Her third album has plenty of likable qualities: mild lyrical quirkiness (making doe eyes at Banksy), moderate eclecticism (dabbling in 70s MOR and breathy electropop), and an unerring knack for hummable melodies. But only when grappling painfully with memories of her late father on DNR, does she leave a strong impression.
Jesca Hoop has had some downright fascinating job descriptions in her time. Among them: Counselor at a hardcore wilderness survival program for troubled kids, backup singer for Peter Gabriel, and nanny for Tom Waits’ children. Any single one of those gigs would make for at least a few killer stories at a party, but the 36-year-old also has a rather accomplished resume as a singer-songwriter, with five previous releases to her name.
Too often is the word 'art' wielded when assessing the merits of pop music. A great deal of that which graces reviews pages is simply a matter of mechanics and mathematics, influences coming together in carefully arranged equations to produce a palatable result. This is probably still a creative act and often yields magnificence, but to brand the ubiquitous white noise that makes up the new releases merry-go-round as art is inaccurate, especially compared to music like Jesca Hoop's.
A third set that’s broader, friskier and sharper than her previous LP. Kevin Harley 2012 When Jesca Hoop drew attention with 2009’s Hunting My Dress, much was made of a history including time spent living “off the grid” and working as Tom Waits’ nanny. Lively as the CV was, though, Hoop’s songs and voice proved equally singular, her stark elegies, surreal dream-folk, skronky blues-pop and murder ballads landing on-target no matter how freely the California-born, Manchester-based singer-songwriter ranged.