Jesca Hoop: Hunting My Dress


RIYL: Tom Waits, Petra Haden, Laura Marling


The slightly off-kilter wordless harmonies that open Jesca Hoop’s “Whispering Light” immediately inform you that you’re in for a strange and possibly wonderful listening experience. With her folk music pedigree and Tom Waits connection, Hoop creates a sound firmly grounded in traditional instrumentation, with flashes and trickles of oddball noise made strangely beautiful.

Hunting My Dress is one of those records that opens up with repeated listening, for those with the patience and persistence to remain engaged. The charms of “Feast of the Heart” might escape you at first – its distorted vocal and wild-ass percussion are not typical fodder for easy listening. Get past the initial shock of the noise, though, and the layers of longing reveal themselves. The little-girl voice Hoop uses in “Angel Mom” may initially seem put-offish, but listen to it again. Hear how that voice wraps itself around the story of the child whose mother “visited me from beyond,” and determine for yourself whether Hoop could sing in any other register and be as effective.

Or consider the title track, which closes the album, and does so with a nod toward traditional folk singing and tight, multi-part harmony. Hoop’s vision – indeed, her art – can be encapsulated in this very song – her beginnings reflected in the album’s end.

Listeners open to the possibilities of the un-obvious melody, an unexpected noisy flourish, or the simple charms of a plaintive voice telling a story, will likely appreciate the artistry at work in Hunting My Dress. It might take a bit of work to get to that point, but the effort is worth it. (Vanguard 2010)

Jesca Hoop’s Myspace Page
Click to buy Hunting My Dress from Amazon

  

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