Part wood sprite and part long-lost Andrews sister, Jesca Hoop's neo-folk hearkens back to a time when musicians were consumed by something other than ticket sales and clothing lines. Raised in a hippie enclave of Los Angeles, Hoop channels the passion of the great folkies, but she doesn't stop there on her debut album.



While she travels the traditional folk route on Kismet, (the acoustic ballad “Enemy” is reminiscent of Nick Drake, while “Love Is All We Have” is just as moving as Joni Mitchell's “River,”), the album is hardly an 11-song tribute to the art of the Celtic shanty. The freak flag flies on “Seed of Wonder” and “Havoc in Heaven,” where the sounds are as supernatural as any Joanna Newsom harp ballad. “Money,” is a spot-on love letter to Tom Waits (who counts himself as a fan), while “Silverscreen” is a throwback to Weimar-era cabaret.



Setting quaint vocals and Bjork-worthy intonation against stripped-down guitar, pulsating beats and jazzy piano, Kismet draws influences from a number of sources. But Hoop cultivates a sound that is strictly her own on this album. Tracks like “Intelligentactile 101,” bask in originality as the singer-songwriter uses undulating harmonies to voice a rather bizarre fantasy involving an umbilical cord—territory Joni Mitchell wouldn't dare venture into.



—Elisa Jacobs

09.14.07