Creature comfort: Jesca Hoop's living room concert in Laurel Canyon
Jesca Hoop’s densely packed literary songs gently unfurl with little regard for the strictures of conventional pop songwriting -- she has more in common with wandering folk troubadours of old. That makes them ideal for sharing in a living room, which is just what the Southern California native did early Thursday at the Laurel Canyon home of KCRW-FM deejay, author and music supervisor Gary Calamar.
Hoop, having recently wrapped up a 17-date U.S. tour, offered a small handful of songs from her recent album, “Hunting My Dress,” minus the inventive and quirky found-sound production that she and co-producer Tony Berg used on the recording.
Instead, she sang unadorned versions -- minus even spare amplification for her acoustic guitar -- with the only accompaniment coming from lock-step harmonies supplied by Nicole Eva Emery, a friend of Hoop’s from her years living in Los Angeles before moving to Manchester, England, about 18 months ago.
Two songs, “Whispering Light” and “Angel Mom,” touched in poetic and emotionally disarming ways on the loss of Hoop's mother to cancer. She prefaced “Whispering Light” with a charming story of how her staunchly Mormon mother came to accept alternative methods of pain control as her illness progressed.
They were greeted warmly by an invited crowd of a few dozen, and it’s hard to imagine Hoop playing to a crowd larger than 100 or 200 people in any space less intimate than, say, the Hotel Café in Hollywood. But it’s somehow rewarding to know there are artists for whom that size of audience is just right.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Jesca Hoop. Credit: Laura Guy