Gig review: Jesca Hoop; Edinburgh Electric Circus

THE ethereal vocal stylings and kooky fashion choices of Kate Bush have become almost a brand image for many less great contemporary singer-songwriters with a girl-crush these days, but in the case of California-raised, Manchester-based Jesca Hoop, the comparison can be made without any implied accusations of copying.

She’s striking, partly down to a great red velvet, fur-shouldered dress which made her appear to be a cross between one of Henry VIII’s wives and a Native American tribeswoman, and her voice is delicately stunning, like wind blowing through snow-fringed pines.

The effect was certainly Kate Bush-like, but with a more pastoral, rootsy effect, and it might help to position her by saying that her music would appeal to fans of her three key patrons so far: Tom Waits, Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Peter Gabriel. As a songwriter, a lyricist and a performer she was a model of controlled power during the childlike electronica of Hospital (Win Your Love), the tender electric guitar solo of The House That Jack Built – played while her backing trio took a seat – and the sad storytelling country of DNR. Angel Mom was particularly breathtaking, a heartfelt and emotional tribute to a departed mother.

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Most pertinently, Hoop writes lyrics of flowing, poetic resonance, Deeper Devastation’s serrated “I’m a lover wild, I’m a love child… you cannot trust a human being to do the right thing” remaining in the memory.

In a show filled with poignant bittersweetness, a particular sadness was that she felt compelled to complain of the record industry: “There are too many good records in the world that don’t get heard by enough people”, before the upbeat Dig This Record.

In another era, the breadth and depth of her talent would already have made her a star.

Rating: * * * *