Release Date: Jul 5, 2019
Record label: Memphis Industries
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
It's interesting to hear Jesca Hoop talk about stepping out of her comfort zone on this fifth full-length. After all, you wouldn't think she had one; this is a Californian who voluntarily traded the rolling vistas of her native Santa Rosa for the grey landscape of South Manchester almost on a whim a few years ago, when her friend and collaborator Guy Garvey suggested it. That's what she claims to have done with 'Stonechild', though; instead of heading home to record as she used to, she instead made the considerably shorter trip to Bristol to cut her new songs with John Parish.
These days, the fate of the world seems to depend on how much we care about each other. Gun violence, abortion rights, mental health awareness—everything comes back to whether or not we can collectively pause and listen. Back in 2017, versatile balladeer Jesca Hoop emerged reborn from her hiatus, like a butterfly that bursts free from its chrysalis; instead of brooding spider-like over gothic fantasies, Memories Are Now unravelled as a modern folk story about finding truth, spirit, and love in these fractured and digitized times.
Following two albums for Sub Pop that included a collaboration with Iron & Wine's Sam Beam (Love Letter for Fire) and the Blake Mills-produced Memories Are Now, Jesca Hoop continues to expand and sharpen her distinctive indie folk on her Memphis Industries debut, Stonechild. It was recorded with longtime PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, who has also produced albums for the likes of Jenny Hval, Aldous Harding, and This Is the Kit. The latter's Kate Stables and Rozi Plain are among the guests on Stonechild, a set that puts a premium on chromatic melodies, crisp vocal harmonies, and spare arrangements to the point of sometimes evoking Renaissance vocal music.
In Anwen Crawford's 33 1/3 book on Live Through This, one fan, Nicole Solomon, credits Courtney Love for introducing the concept of motherhood to a rock genre dominated by men. "Courtney made motherhood the most fucking intense, crazy, rock'n'roll thing you could be writing about," said Solomon. "I was… so struck by what a necessary corrective that was in the history of rock music." In folk music, motherhood has always been a central theme; many a folk song was improvised by mothers to soothe crying children, and in turn, inherited by those children when they bore children of their own.