Kismet is defined as fate, fortune, destiny or luck. Today I watched the first three episodes of the new internet-based dramedy Quarterlife by the creators of Thirtysomething and My So Called Life, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick. Quarterlife follows the life of misunderstood twenty-something Dylan Krieger, and watching it, I cannot help but think of singer/songwriter Jesca Hoop. Hoop’s songs would make the perfect soundtrack voice for Dylan on the show. Both Jesca and Dylan are outcasts in their prospective universes. Both are creative and intellectually stimulating women who are naturally and distinctively gifted with the souls of poets, waiting to be discovered by the universe dying for authentic beauty.
Jesca Hoop comes to us from the magical hills of Los Angeles. She is one of a kind, though we actually do have artists with soul here in the West Coast, and she is a jewel waiting to be unearthed. She has a Fiona Apple-esque voice with a more eccentric lyrical vibe. It’s no wonder that Tom Waits is a fan of this California Chanteuse. Take a dive into her world of Kismet; it’s a strange wonderland with Pepper-esque sounds missing from this age of commercialized jingles clogging the airwaves with soulless toaster music.
From the opening Cocteau Twins-like effects of “Summertime” you enter inside Hoop’s enchanting animated forest come to life. Her voice is the guide to the adventurous Kismet. The quiet moments are where Hoop’s gift of lyrical marvel glimmers brightest. She has the one of a kind voice that you’ll follow to the end of her imaginary trip. One of my favorite cuts is “Enemy.” With just her acoustic guitar and slight harmonious chorus this song shines with lyrics like “I’ve come to see that beauty is a thing that is without grace.”
Grace is a trait that many artists lack, yet Hoop is filled with charm, especially in the Hollywood-esque and Ditty Bop-ish number “Silverscreen.” I love the lyrics in this timeless number, as I hear “Silverscreen” as Hoop’s first journey inside Tinsel Town. Her witty wordplay best comes through when she sings, “The Gates of heaven are open/ and there is me/ on the silver screen/ I hope they did good editing.”
“Money” is one of my favorites, a more upbeat ditty that makes the perfect segue from “Silverscreen.” Hoop seems to know all about show business when sings, “…into the mirrors on the wall/ `cause if you want to belong you write a sing along.” This satirical look trying to survive as an artist in this country of commerce is one of the best songs on Kismet. The backing vocals and eerie tones turn “Money” into a modern day ghost song for the innovative dreamers longing to have their shot in this land lacking any reasonable opportunity for success.
I have a soft spot for “Love Is All We Have,” a lyrical ode to my old home of New Orleans and those who may have lost hope after the destruction of Katrina. With lyrics like “when we move with angels on our shoes, sickest angels you ever know, ” it sounds like Hoop must have spent some time in the 504 because she knows how to layer her songs with some funky back beats. Listen to “Out to the back door” an urban soundscape with featuring the drumming skills on one Matt Chamberlain (who’s best know for his work with Tori Amos and Fiona Apple).
Even though I first heard Jesca Hoop as the cinematic voice of Quarterlife‘s lead character Dylan Kreiger, she’s meant to be more than a soundtrack muse. This breathtaking journey inside the lyrical mind space of this unconventional artist is so stunning that Kismet deserves to be dissected delved into and desired over and over again.
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