Jesca Hoop, Hunting My Dress

Published on July 30th, 2010 in: Current Faves, Feminism, Music, Music Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

The title song of singer/songwriter Jesca Hoop’s second album, Hunting My Dress, might sound odd, until you listen to the song and consider the lyrics. Rather than describing a woman’s article of clothing, she seems to mean instead the search for a guise, or perhaps a disguise. With all the various personas that she inhabits on this album, it is quite a fitting term.

Certainly some listeners may be put off by Jesca Hoop’s at-times-affected vocals. And though some reviewers have mentioned Kate Bush and PJ Harvey in their reviews of Hunting My Dress, there are those who may make such comparisons in a more negative fashion. The album, however, feels rather than sounds like those women; Hoop’s vocals are not so piercingly theatrical as the former, and while the latter oozes with masculine swagger, Jesca Hoop’s voice instead has a numinous quality.

hunting my dress

Hunting My Dress also possesses some of the haunting quality of Sinead O’Connor’s early songs (“Jackie,” “Jerusalem”) but less fierce, and more romantic. (One hesitates to mention Jeff Buckley as that seems sexist and inappropriate, but there is a decided similarity.)

Jesca Hoop plays guitar on the entirety of Hunting My Dress, but it will be her voice that you’ll notice first. At times it is exquisite, almost painfully lovely (“Angel Mom,” “Murder Of Birds,” “Hunting My Dress”), even when it’s been distorted and roughed up (“A Feast Of The Heart,” “Bed Across The Sea”).

There is a captivating duality to the song structures as well, as the frequently minimalist verses are complemented by more evocative and emotive bridges and choruses. This quality is pushed to its limit in “Murder Of Birds,” which alternates two completely distinct songs within. Hoop has said that although she lives in 2010 not 1810, “sometimes the music that comes through me seems to come from that time.” Yet the album as a whole almost feels like 1410, particularly in the somewhat medieval aura created by “The Kingdom” and “Tulip.”

Lyrically, too, there is almost a charming quaintness to some songs, although this should not be misinterpreted to mean chaste or old-fashioned. The guitar and percussion are both particularly fresh and modern. “Bed Across The Sea” quivers with an intense sensuality while other songs mention blood, lust, violence, and death. In the center of this tapestry is the starkly unique and catchy “Four Dreams” which will defy the expectations of those who think they’ve got Jesca Hoop’s sound pegged after the first four songs.

Some of the songs sound like poems that can only be fully explicated by the singer, while others are more straightforward, like the bittersweet grief of “Angel Mom” or the lust evoked in “Feast Of The Heart.” “Tulip” is possibly the most fascinating of them all: it tells a compelling story and even alternates vocal styles to indicate the characters.

In a time when artists are no longer nurtured, but created out of thin air, one hopes that someone as uniquely beguiling as Jesca Hoop will continue to let us peek into her world as she hunts more dresses.

Hunting My Dress received its US debut on July 27 through Vanguard Records and contains bonus acoustic versions of songs from her first album, Kismet. To listen to selections from Hunting My Dress, please check out her website or MySpace page. You can purchase the album on iTunes and download a free track from the album on the Vanguard website.

Jesca Hoop will be joining the Lilith Fair tour in Washington DC on August 3 and Raleigh NC on August 4.

One Response to “Jesca Hoop, Hunting My Dress


  1. Music - Jeff Bridges... I Don't Need No Jeff Bridges To Put Music To My Poem! - Kittysneezes:
    May 2nd, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    […] Jesca Hoop, Hunting My Dress (popshifter.com) […]

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