As an early mentor of Jesca Hoop, Tom Waits described her music as, “like a four-sided coin. She is an old soul, like a black pearl, a good witch or a red moon. Her music is like going swimming in a lake at night”.
Loose and free, Jesca Hoop bounds onstage in an outfit that resembles a folded kite, picks up a guitar and dives into the first song of tonight. She’s wonderfully eccentric and throughout tonight there’s many exchanges between her and the crowd – she is at one with the audience. One punter shouts out at one point “the delicate melodies of Jesca Hoop light up the sh*tholes of Britain” a remark which she seems to love and comes back to throughout the night. This isn’t intended as a dig at Brighton’s Patterns, a venue/nightclub which has hosted some brilliant evenings and bands, probably the only place you can go for great DJ sets and dance music.
Jesca Hoop's latest album is a breathtaking triumph: as starkly sparse as it is bravely bold. For the last ten years Hoop has been releasing solo albums under the guidance of industry guru Tony Berg and his Zeitgeist Studios, but here, for the first time, she has stepped away from that shadow to meticulously craft a fine batch of songs alongside her long-time co-producer Blake Mills (Alabama Shakes, Fiona Apple). At live shows Hoop appears with her voice and guitar, backed only by a second guitarist and occasionally some backing singers. The sound of Memories Are Now sticks close to that sound, stripped back to just the bare essentials, with sparse layers of percussion and the results are haunting. Title track 'Memories Are Now' is primarily Hoop's multi-layered vocal, soaked in reverb, backed by a hi-hat marking time and a lone guitar, fiercely plucking out a minimal chord sequence that's almost all bassline. It's an intense piece, vocals right in your face, leaving you no room to escape their direct melodies. The backing vocals float off in the background, pulling wisps of atmosphere along in their wake. And that guitar rises and falls in intensity, you can hear the grit and grain building up in its tone as the plucking becomes more forceful. It's a wonderfully powerful piece of music that does so much with so little, setting the scene perfectly for what's to come.