Jesca Hoop

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Kismet Review

by Jo-Ann Greene

Santa Monica fell under Jesca Hoop's spell in autumn 2006, making her "Seed of Wonder" the most requested song in her local radio station's history. Hoop re-recorded it for her debut Kismet album, with assistance from Stewart Copeland, whose complex, ever-shifting rhythms enhance the number's uniqueness, sliding it toward hip-hop here, prodding it into a Native American dance there. Hoop is the master of such musical shifts and slides, and Kismet beautifully highlights her constantly altering perspectives. "Out the Back Door," for instance, swings dramatically from hip-hop to blues before leaping unexpectedly into drum'n'bass, while Hoop twirls her vocal styles in even more directions. The blues edge a clutch more tracks to wonderful effect, yet the singer is equally at home with folk, as she beautifully displays across the dreamy "Enemy" and the sublime "House in Heaven." The latter was lyrically inspired by a dramatic Chinese legend, and musically gives a twist of the East to British folk before sweeping into a '40s-styled jazz revue. The elegant, sophisticated "Love and Love Again" takes that latter style to its logical conclusion with a glamorous Hollywood musical arrangement, as Hoop swells and deepens her vocals in homage to Judy Garland. "Love Is All We Have" is a bit less successful, the mostly acoustic backing haunting, but her lyrics seeming a bit trite when themed to the man-made catastrophe that followed Hurricane Katrina. Much better is "Money," which instantly evokes Liza Minnelli's classic but moves the scene and theme from a Berlin café to the L.A. music industry, albeit musically via a South American tango club. "Summertime," a harmony and harmonics-drenched piece of confectionery, is lovely, but one of the least interesting songs on this enchanting and challenging album. It is, of course, the label's pick for first single. There are so many more fascinating songs within that it almost pales in comparison, for this is a set to leave one breathless with wonder.

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