This review originally featured in The Skinny.
Jesca Hoop returns with her fourth solo album, following last year’s incredible Sub Pop-released Love Letter for Fire with Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam. Signing to the label to release her latest material, Hoop’s new offering is as unique as it is universally empowering, ploughing the depths of fragility, defiance and everything in between.
Title track Memories Are Now is a strong, seize-the-day call to arms for the bereft. Uncluttered bass notes and a delicate beat strike under Hoop’s unbelievably versatile vocal, like Dolly Parton singing something Beyoncé might have penned after a particularly painful break-up.
The Lost Sky is similarly stark yet bleakly tender. Gentle strumming and simple string picks run through circular, repetitive verse, signaling a hurt without end. By the third track, Hoop’s voice takes another turn – flitting from smoky low notes to the top of her register in the same breath, as she explores the state of modern life and technology’s frantic influence over it.
Hoop’s lyrical phrasing and ability to bend her instrument to any style, from the country tick of Simon Says to the brilliant folk-pop of Unsaid, are astounding. The tribal thump and rallying cry of Cut Connection injects an angry energy to the record’s mid-point before the pure hymnal elegance of Songs of Old paints a vivid, string-plucked picture of the past, proving Hoop’s voice to be part opera, part gospel and capable of just about anything.
Pegasi is acoustic, country-lilted, breathy beauty. The production is honest and stripped back, letting her vocal gift and stunning songwriting shine. Album closer The Coming conjures a dusty desert outpost with lonely, distant guitar licks as the singer comes to terms with the loss of faith and an acceptance of the shedding of it.
Memories Are Now is a gorgeously delivered elegy to heartbreak and loss; powerful, perfectly executed songs to bring comfort and strength to the weary, broken and scorned.