STONECHILD by Jesca Hoop

Release date: July 5, 2019
Label: Memphis Industries

There are, the old adage says, more stars in the sky than grains of sand on a beach. Equally, it seems, there are more quirky singer-songwriters producing albums than punters to listen to them. In such a saturated marketplace, how does an artist stand out?

For Jesca Hoop, the answer has always been to write with such open abandon and freeness that not category nor genre nor critic can hold her.

This, her fifth album, is a case in point. Hanging under a title inspired by a museum display of an unborn foetus which was carried by a mother for 30 years – a topic she impressively weaves into song in the mesmerising ‘Passage’s End’ – it is a bewildering but often dazzling compilation that swirls with shamanistic rhythms and beguiling melodies.

Backed by the likes of Rozi Plain and This Is The Kit, who provide delicious harmonies, the eclecticism of the 11 tracks is impressive, with each song, as unique in its beauty and as uniform in its individuality as a snowflake, is an experience, be that swirling and cloying (‘Foot Fall To The Path’), free-form choral acoustic (‘Death Row’) or dizzyingly catchy (‘Free Of The Feeling’).

There are also nods to the works of others, proof – which at times is needed – that Hoop does indeed inhabit the same sphere and studios as her contemporaries. ‘Shoulder Charge’, for example, has the understated urge and heart-tug of her good friends Elbow, while ‘Outside of Eden’ gives more than a passing nod to Moldy Peaches.

It all underlines the confidence Hoop has in her songs and her ability to find an audience for them. And it is confidence well placed. Assured yet ambitious, unsettling yet comforting, Stonechild is a worthy addition to her already impressive catalogue.

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