Album Review: Jesca Hoop – Memories Are Now

Not one to be drowned out in a sea of voices, Jesca Hoop is uncompromisingly defiant. Her latest release, Memories Are Now, demands that you listen.

Opening with the title track, she declares, ‘I’ve lived enough life; I’ve earned my stripes with my knife in the ground – this is mine’, a statement of intent so bold that it instantly snatches your attention against an otherwise minimalist sound fabricated to enforce nothing but her words.

Produced by Blake Mills (Fiona Apple, Alabama Shakes), the record sits closely against the live experience and is notable for a rawness, not just in the starkness of its lyrics, but also in a state that Hoop refers to as ‘sparse, even unsettling’. The album weaves through moments of great intimacy – The Lost Sky is entirely stripped down to a melancholy that reveals an anxious personal intensity early on – but also flickers into more primal jagged rhythms which become organic and powerful in Animal Kingdom Chaotic and Cut Connection and rumble with theatrical percussion.

A more traditional folk lilt rolls through Simon Says which feels sweetly antiquated, while Songs Of Old and, in particular Pegasi, tackle grander mythologies that brim with colourful imagination yet are presented as immediate and human. Ringing out against a few stark chords, the record ends on The Coming, an inescapably personal meditation on religious influence in her life that resonates long after the song has ended and is befitting of an album that feels vulnerable and exposed while never yielding to self-indulgence.

Memories Are Now doubtlessly benefits from it’s uncluttered production, but it’s Hoop’s boldness that really steals the record.

Kerry Manning