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Step Right Up: Jesca Hoop

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Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


‘Jesca Hoop’s music is like a four-sided coin. She’s an old soul, like a good witch, a black pearl or a red moon’. Tom Waits

‘The House That Jack Built’ is a haven for masterful songwriting and accomplished pop sensibility. In fact, the spectrum of human emotion that flows so prevalently throughout the album is analogous to vintage Wes Anderson; filled with heartache and humour. A parallel can be made to Brooklyn’s Annie Clarke AKA St Vincent, with both artist’s uncanny ability to create stellar electronic augmented pop. Like St Vincent’s ‘Strange Mercy’ album from last year, ‘The House That Jack Built’ sets to be the dazzling art pop album of 2012. The first single from the album, ‘Born To’ is an infectious pop delight with its anthemic refrain, ‘and now you gotta get it with what you’ve got’. The album is immaculately produced, making in turn, a pristine indie pop sound laden with  irresistible hooks. The songs on ‘The House That Jack Built’ embraces polished indie pop which is a move in direction from Hoop’s previous works.

‘I carried a bag of rock and stone full of memory of our family aboard a plane to Tulsa’ is sung by Hoop over a gently picked electric guitar on the album’s heartbreaking title-track. ‘The House That Jack Built’ was my first introduction to Jesca Hoop’s unique blend of dark folk and dazzling pop. Hoop’s CV makes for an interesting read, from being back-up singer to Peter Gabriel to working as a nanny for Tom Waits’ children. The real intrigue on her resume however lies in her music, as a singer songwriter, showcased across three studio albums to date.
On this, her third full-length album, California-raised and Manchester-based, Hoop wrote and recorded the songs shortly after the death of her father. The americana tour de force ‘DNR’ deals with Hoop’s relationship with her father. ‘A lonely heart was the black hole that did him in/From the first attempt to his current critical condition’ is a lyric from the aching ballad. Sparse instrumentation of acoustic guitar, harp and keyboards creates an emotional backdrop to the poignancy of the lyrics. The song’s rawness and intimacy recalls singer songwriter Nina Nastasia at her best. Another highlight is the atmospheric ‘Deeper Devastation’, the penultimate track on the album. The song is built over a brooding guitar line and mesmerizing backing vocals. The hymn-like ballad can be compared to Neko Case, where Hoop’s voice penetrates deep in your veins, ‘Under the power of our one and only sun’.


‘The House That Jack Built’ is out now on Bella Union.

Written by admin

August 18, 2012 at 10:01 am


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