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Archive for the ‘Jesca Hoop’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: JESCA HOOP-Tiny Desk Concert #965 (April 3, 2020).

I really liked the Tiny Desk Concert that features Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop.  So much so that I bought the CD and it made me want to see both of them live.

Jesca Hoop last appeared at the Tiny Desk as a duet with Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) in the spring of 2016. They sang songs from their collaborative record Love Letters For Fire.

This time it is just Jesca and I have realized that I liked her more as an accompanist rather than a lead singer.  Actually, that’s not exactly right.  Her voice is lovely.  I just find the songs a little meandering.

This time around, Jesca Hoop came to the Tiny Desk with just her guitars, her lovely voice, and brilliant poetic songs. She has a magical way with words, and she opened her set with “Pegasi,” a beautiful song about the wild ride that is love, from her 2017 album Memories Are Now.

“Pegasi” is nice to watch her play the fairly complex guitar melodies–she uses all of the neck.  The utterly amazing thing about “Pegasi” though comes at the end of the song when she sings an amazing note (high and long) that represents a dying star.

She wanted to sing it today so it could live on Tiny Desk.

The two songs that follow are from her latest album, Stonechild, the album that captured my heart in 2019, and the reason I reached out to invite her to perform at my desk.

“All Time Low” is a song, she says, for the “existential underdog.”  She switches guitars (to an electric) and once again, most of the melody takes place on the high notes of the guitar.  Her melodies are fascinating.  And the lyrics are interesting too:

“Michael on the outside, always looking in
A dog in the fight but his dog never wins
If he works that much harder, his ship might come in
He gives it the old heave-ho.”

After the song, she says, I’m going to tune my guitar, but I’m not going to talk so it doesn’t take as long. If you were at my show, I’d be talking the whole time and it would take a long time.

And for her final tune, she plays “Shoulder Charge.” It’s a song that features a word that Jesca stumbled upon online: “sonder,” which you won’t find in the dictionary. She tells the NPR crowd “sonder” is the realization “that every person that you come across is living a life as rich and complex as your own.” And that realization takes you out of the center of things, something that is at the heart of “Shoulder Charge” and quite a potent moment in this deeply reflective and personal Tiny Desk concert.

This word, sonder, came to my attention back in 2016 when Kishi Bashi first discovered it and named his album Sonderlust for it.

The song is like the others, slow and quite with a pretty melody that doesn’t really go anywhere.

I found that after three listens, I started to enjoy the songs more, so maybe she just writes songs that you need to hear a few times to really appreciate.

[READ: March 2020] Ducks, Newburyport

I heard about this book because the folks on the David Foster Wallace newsgroup were discussing it.  I knew nothing about it but when I read someone describe the book like this:

1 Woman’s internal monologue.  8 Sentences. 1040 pages

I was instantly intrigued.

Then my friend Daryl said that he was really enjoying it, so I knew I had to check it out.

That one line  is technically (almost) accurate but not really accurate.

The story (well, 95% of it) is told through one woman’s stream of consciousness interior monologue.  She is a mother living in Ohio.  She has four children and she is overwhelmed by them.  Actually she is overwhelmed by a lot and she can’t stop thinking about these things.

She used to teach at a small college but felt that the job was terrible and that she was not cut out for it.  So now she bakes at home and sells her goods locally.  She specializes in tarte tatin.  This is why she spends so much time with her thoughts–she works alone at home.  Her husband travels for work.  Whether she is actually making money for the family is a valid but moot question.

So for most of the book not much happens, exactly.  We just see her mind as she thinks of all the things going on around her.  I assume she’s reading the internet (news items come and go in a flash).  She is quite funny in her assessment of the world (how much she hates trump).  While I was reading this and more and more stupid things happened in the real world, I couldn’t help but imagine her reaction to them).  She’s not a total liberal (she didn’t trust Hillary), but she is no conservative either (having lived in Massachusetts and New York).  In fact, she feels she does not fit in locally at all. (more…)

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genius SOUNDTRACK: SAM BEAM AND JESCA HOOP-Tiny Desk Concert #538 (June 6, 2016).

beamhoopI sampled the Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop CD online and really liked it, so I bought it for Sarah for her birthday.  The whole album is really beautiful and I was delighted to see that they performed a Tiny Desk Concert.

Sam Beam is the man behind Iron and Wine.  He has an incredibly long beard.  Jesca Hoop is a solo performer with a few albums out (although I hadn’t heard of her before).  She looks adorable in this concert in her Oxford shirt and suspenders–they’re an interesting contrast.  And yet their voices work so nicely together.

They sing three songs from the album with Beam on guitar and both of them singing.

“Sailor to Siren” begins with Beam on lead vocals, but Hoop soon joins him to duet on most of the lyrics.  Their harmonies are so pretty, perhaps in particular because Beam’s voice is also in a high delicate register.

Sam Beam is one of the most personable performers to show up on the Tiny Desk–he seems so kind and gentle with a good sense of humor.  And Hoop complements him well.  He comments about having to sing into the microphone without looking and she jokes, “it’s like when you’re driving with someone and you’re feeding them food but you have to look at the road to make sire they don’t hit anything so you put food in their beard.”  It’s a great visual reference with his large beard and it actually gets him laugh and stop playing for a minute.

“Know the Wild That Wants You” features Hoop on first lead vocals and Beam on backing vocals and then they duet on the next verse.  The harmonies in the chorus are again beautiful.

For the final song, the incredibly catchy “Every Songbird Says,” Beam describes a video that was made for the song.  He says it’s the best video he’s ever had made for him; Jesca jumps in and says it was made for her, which makes him laugh.  He describes it as having babies with raccoon and dog heads wrestling and licking each other.

On this song Jesca’s vocals are breathier and quite different–they work wonderfully and are a fine contrast to the high notes she (and he) hit in the chorus.

This is a great representation of the album which is similarly sparse (although it does have some extra flourishes here and there).  Their voices sound just as great as on the record.

[READ: March 1, 2016] Genius

The cover of this book shows a man facing the giant but fuzzy image of Albert Einstein.  And it proves an apt image.

The story is about a man who says he was always pretty smart.  He skipped ahead two grades in school.  Although puberty was a bitch for him, it didn’t do him any real harm.  He married and had two kids.  And he now has a job at Pasadena Technical Institute.  He was brought in as a young ringer with great ideas.  But as he has been there for a while, the ideas have just stopped coming and he sees the new young people starting to overtake him–which might mean the loss of his position.

The story flips back and forth between his worklife–unsatisfying–and his home life–confusing.  His son is old enough (14) to be interested in sex.  But he has a heart to heart with him and says they can talk about anything–it seems to work. (more…)

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