Jesca Hoop - Memories Are Now
“Don't forget life before the internet,” warns Jesca Hoop, setting the tone for her latest album Memories Are Now.
Although it’s her first solo offering in five years, Hoop has been kept busy with Love Letter For Fire, a collaborative album released last year with Sam Beam (Iron & Wine). With many influences to draw from, including her early mentor Tom Waits, it’s no wonder Hoop seemingly struggles to pin herself down to a singular style. Memories Are Now jumps from the cheery guitars of ‘Simon Says’, to the driving drum beat of 'Cut Connection,' to the solemn words of 'Songs Of Old.' As a result, the flow of the album suffers slightly, but not nearly enough to detract from the overall feel.
Opening with the title track, the instruments are minimal, giving a focus to Hoop’s sighing vocals. Much of the album sees a theme of disillusionment at human reliance on technology. “Humankind wiped out by rise in drone,” predicts Hoop on 'Animal Kingdom Chaotic' as her swooping vocals sing of a dystopian near future. Disguised by cheerful jangly guitars and pretty melodies, it’s easy to miss the sinister messages that Hoop is trying to convey: “Fighting, killing by remote control … take back control.”
But as the rhythmic chant of 'Cut Connection' is moved past, so is the talk of technology. 'Songs Of Old' is different from anything else on the album, featuring strings and pushing Hoop’s vocal range to its enchanting limits. Things continue to change from here with a lovely folk song from the point of view of a mythical flying horse – “I feel like spreading my wings, take to the sky like poetry,” - and rounding things off with 'The Coming', a thematically bold piece rich in religious imagery.
Memories Are Now comes across initially as a random group of songs collected together mostly to bulk out an album. However, with each listen every song earns its place on the album, not just as filler, but as genuinely great songs. The musical variety makes it a consistently rewarding listen. A record that will remain in memories for a long time to come.