Jesca Hoop Hunting My Dress Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

This hotly tipped talent is fully deserving of the current buzz around her.

Rob Crossan 2009

This beguiling Californian – now based in Manchester – has already gleaned a highly impressive array of admirers. Tom Waits, no less, has gone on record as saying that the sound of Jesca Hoop reminds him of “going swimming in a lake at night”. Waits formerly employed Hoop as nanny to his children – but would she have been better suited to a life of tidying away playthings over making discs?

On the strong evidence presented by second album Hunting My Dress: not a chance. A sensual, eccentric and often frankly odd-sounding record, it exudes oodles of charisma and originality, thanks mostly to Hoop's delightfully freaky take on traditional folk convention. Guy Harvey of Elbow is another huge fan, and his duet with her, Murder of Birds, is an immediate standout on this collection. A touch of Edgar Allen Poe is clear to hear in lines such as “I've got demons / when I need 'ems”.

Obvious comparisons are there to be made when listening to Hoop's impressive vocal range and almost scholarly attention to lyrical detail, the quickest to spring to mind being Björk and Kate Bush. But that's not to say that this record is either hackneyed of design or unapproachable for those with only an ear for the easiest pop. Stadium sing-alongs might be thin on the ground, but these really are songs that linger long in the memory.

Some leathery and fibrous arrangements prevent ballads like Tulip from slipping much into the ephemeral, and the sheer ambition of Hoop’s attempts to cram so many disparate musical styles into one place – from madrigals to show tunes – make this hotly tipped talent fully deserving of the current buzz around her.

Right to leave a career of comparative servitude behind, Hoop’s latest collection is an utterly delicious and impressively inventive journey into the mindset of a talent sure to grow in confidence and stature over the next 12 months.

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