A curious thing happens at Jesca Hoop gigs. When a song finishes, there are cheers and applause, then the crowd falls silent, eagerly waiting to hear what she is going to say next. You see, Jesca is one hell of a storyteller, so even interludes of absent-minded humming while tuning her guitar receive full attention, just in case.

Tonight’s set, drawn exclusively from 2009′s ‘Hunting My Dress’ and rockier new album ‘The House That Jack Built’, sees Jesca‘s incredible vocal range in fine form. Categorising her sound is difficult: the beautifully light ‘Murder Of Birds’ is distinctly folky while ‘Tulip’ and ‘Feast Of The Heart’ tonight sound like a gathering storm. Recent single ‘Born To’, arguably her best material to date, thunders through the venue, ending with a note that defies belief.

Her band, comprising backing singer, bassist and electronic percussion wizard, does a flawless job of bending with her pliable approach to rhythm, her backing singer in particular seeming to psychically know how long she might decide to hold a note.

Throughout the set, Jesca tells incredibly personal stories which are both wonderfully funny and tremendously sad. Her unusual upbringing (“I was raised mormon until I was 16,” she explains cheerfully, “and then I fucked off.”) clearly still inspires her music: ‘Whispering Light’ is a conversation with her mother, ‘Hospital’ finds a young Jesca relishing attention after breaking her arm.

Towards the end of the set, she plays ‘Angel Mom’ (try to forgive the terrible title) and the devastating ‘DNR’ back to back. The first deals with the death of her father, the second with an imagined visit from her deceased mother, and even Jesca takes a moment to recover. This emotional honesty never feels overdone, though: it’s simply who she is, and we’re privileged to be allowed to join her.

Heather Crumley