Kismet Label: Sony BMG
Jesca Hoop comes from “the hills” of Los Angeles and cites a diverse array of influences in creating her eclectic sound – early folk songs, chamber music, gospel, jazz, murder ballads, blues and slave songs, along with pop and rock. It all spills together to form one of the most unique-sounding albums to appear this year, though Hoop’s sound is hard to peg. The album has a shifting sonic atmosphere that may be too diverse for some tastes, but pleasingly eclectic for others. It’s no surprise to learn that Hoop has been a featured selection on “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” the influential radio show out of Santa Monica’s KCRW.
“Summertime” opens the album with a pop shimmer that could fit into Austin Powers’ collection, yet still sounds fresh. “Seed of Wonder” has an indeed wondering-yet-weird sort of quality that comes from a six-minute track that defies conventional song structure and also features Stewart Copeland of the Police on drums. The dreamy “Enemy” features multiple harmonies over sparse acoustic guitar, recalling Simon & Garfunkel, while “Silverscreen” recalls Hollywood’s golden age, as if nicked from a 1940s soundtrack.
In “Money,” Hoop delivers a savvy take on the commercialism of the music industry with a torchy vibe and straightforward lyrics such as "Money makes the world go round / Money make you change your sound, if the price is right.” Hoop doesn’t particularly rock, but she does have a compelling vibe. Songs like “Havoc in Heaven” offer atmospheric soundscapes that sound is if part of a soundtrack for key, contemplative scenes in a mysterious indie film.
“Out the Back Door” and “Intelligentactile 101” pick up the tempo a bit, and could actually get a crowd dancing. “Back Door” seems to vaguely bite from John Bonham’s famous “When the Levee Breaks” beat, but it’s used in a clever minimalist context.
Kismet is the kind of music that would sound great at a jazz club with a martini in hand, and Hoop has a unique vibe that draws the listener in, a rare quality in an age of increasingly homogenized music. Whether it will play with the pop kids is a question mark, but there’s an adventurous soul shining through in Kismet that should appeal to certain sectors of the indie crowd.
~Greg M. Schwartz