Memories Are Now
LISTEN: ‘Memories Are Now’
8/10 Gorgeous minimalism from
Manchester-based Californian Seven albums into a defiantly independent career and Jesca
Hoop is only hitting her stride. The singer relocated from sun-kissed California to Manchester back in 2008, having fallen for Elbow’s tour manager, after a jaunt around the US supporting Guy Garvey’s excellent mob. Happily, the change in climate hasn’t dampened her talent. In fact, the former nanny to Tom Waits’ children has delivered her most confident statement of intent yet with Memories Are Now.
Recorded by Hoop herself with fellow Californian Blake Mills – who also contributes bass, drums, guitars and backing vocals – these nine songs are light on arrangement but heavy on impact, the minimal instrumentation allowing Hoop’s voice and her powerful lyrics to take centre stage.
“I’ve lived enough life, I’ve earned my stripes”, she sings on the
opening title track, an impressive statement of intent where her layered vocals flit in and out of earshot; sometimes joining forces for a stunning choral effect, as Hoop lays down the law. Indeed, you wouldn’t want to get on Jesca’s bad side, for fear you might end up in one of her songs. “When we said the words ‘I love you’/ I said them ‘cos they are true/ Why would you say those words to me if you could not follow through?” she admonishes on ‘The Lost Sky’, poring over the dregs of a love gone sour.
Technology and religion feature strongly throughout, with Hoop equally suspicious of both. ‘Animal Kingdom Chaotic’ and ‘Simon
Says’ argue that tech is taking over our lives, with the latter taking a particularly well-aimed dig at allpervading consumerism: “As we pixelate a generation, children become application”. ‘Songs Of
Old’, meanwhile, examines how one culture’s temple of worship is built on the blood of another, while ‘The Coming’ imagines a disillusioned Jesus losing his religion: “I can’t turn a blind eye to centuries of conflict and wrong-doing in his name.”
Not your average singersongerwriter album about loves lost, then. Great stuff.
OUT NOW/ JOHN WALSHE