In 2007, Jesca Hoop released her premiere album, Kismet. “Summertime” begins the record with a simple synth-driven motive surrounded by the sound of birds. Jesca’s voice then takes over in three-part harmony, and the listener is immediately taken to a place that only exists when listening to her singing. The song never loses its momentum, but it’s a kind of momentum that is so beautifully relaxing that it doesn’t feel like you’re going anywhere. It feels as if you’re stuck in a perpetual moment with Jesca, and you’ve forgotten about everything that happened before you stepped into that moment.
This is an element of Kismet that remains true for almost every track. The subsequent “Seed of Wonder” absolutely falls into that relaxing momentum via the guitar motive that drives it, which allows for her vocal lines (the most brilliant parts of any track on Kismet) to pop out. Since there is a steady rhythm to keep the song going, Jesca is able to use her singing, especially in her background vocals, to twist and play with her simple melodies. It’s just incredible songwriting. She also uses this technique on “Silverscreen”, “Dreams in the Hollow”, “Intelligentactile 101”, and “Havoc in Heaven”.
It’s hard to not pay attention to all of these subtle elements in Jesca’s music and focus on the lyrics. But when that is accomplished, it enhances the experience dramatically. Lines such as “Beautiful, falling fast from a state of grace/ And trusting there is a light in darkest place / My dirty knees hold the ground till it’s done with me / I’ve come to see that beauty is a thing that is without grace” are constructed purposely to be hard to ignore. These lyrics come from “Enemy”, one of the softer tracks of Kismet. Similarly, the way “Love Is All We Have” is written almost forces you to hear what Jesca is singing about. The three songs Jesca constructed in this way, “Enemy”, “Love Is All We Have” and the concluding “Love & Love Again”, will grab your heartstrings and never let go, and they are certainly some of the most intriguing tracks on the record.
It is difficult to describe what is heard on Kismet in a way that every listener can understand without hearing the record on their own, but that makes Jesca an artist in the truest sense of the word. The music she creates can be understood and heard in an infinite number of ways. Each song can mean something different to every single person who hears it. In some cases, a song may even come across differently every time the same person listens to it. This is what every musician should strive to achieve, yet it is something Jesca achieves so seemingly effortlessly. Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder if Jesca herself even knows how brilliant she is.
Kismet consists of many different sounds and styles, but it’s hard to imagine any of them being placed in any other album. This is true with any of Jesca’s albums, and it’s an incredible accomplishment on her part. She is an artist who puts her whole heart, mind and soul into everything she does, and it certainly shows. Whether it is a studio recording or a live performance, Jesca Hoop is completely connected with the honesty and heart of her music every single time. There is nobody like Jesca Hoop.