jesca hoop

Jesca Hoop

I went to see Jesca Hoop the other night, the first time I’ve seen her with full band backing and she blew me away.  Beautiful goes no way to cover the work and this performance of the Californian singer songwriter, it’s too generic.  However, as he made his way closer to the stage I overheard a guy behind me say, ‘god, I have to get closer to that woman, she’s beautiful’, I know what he meant – though I suspect his ‘beautiful’ may have been on a slightly different plane to mine.  But, like a tiny, barefoot Frida Khalo with a guitar, reams of black taffeta and a vocal range to leave your jaw on the floor.  I wanted to get right next to her too.

Hoop’s music has been described as sparse and I would agree with that, this is no bad thing though as it showcases her voice and guitar playing, like a recipe that only requires a few high quality ingredients, nothing to hide.  This is best seen in her many (impressive) collaborations – Guy Garvey, Erika Wennerstrom, Sam Beam – check out 2014’s Undress for more of that.  Her lyrics have always appealed to me; dreamlike and alive with bird and animal imagery, snippets of folklore, mythology, nature and the universe – beguiling short stories that pull you in, despite living in Manchester for the last nine years the Californian desert never seems too far away.  There’s a definite step change however on her fourth album, Memories are Now.  Lyrically it’s more earth bound, personal, far more precise and direct;  particularly in The Lost Sky, the first single to be taken from the album. ‘When I said the words I love you, I said them cause they are true/How could you say those words to me when you could not follow through?’  Live this was layered with perfect harmonies. Enough to make a grown woman cry (I might have cried) (I cried).

Here’s a taste of her live from a recent 6 Music session for Lauren Laverne.

Memories are Now is out now on Sub Pop records.

I’ve written about Hoop previously here.

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