Jesca Hoop and Her Nursery Rhymes for Unsettling Times

“There’s more of an edge to it.  The sounds are edgy and raw,” Jesca Hoop tells me of her latest album, The House That Jack Built, out this Tuesday...

“There’s more of an edge to it.  The sounds are edgy and raw,” Jesca Hoop tells me of her latest album, The House That Jack Built, out this Tuesday on her very own Bella Union.  The album, the Manchester-based/California-born singer/songwriter’s third, doesn’t stray too much from her previous releases.  It’s still moody, melancholy, and morbidly humorous.  She does, however, feel as though she’s managed to refine her sound to all of her strengths: “My songwriting has grown quite a bit.  My songwriting is more at home now.  For the past couple of records I’ve been able to hone down my influences to a blend.”

The content of The House That Jack Built has Jesca thinking about the bigger things and projecting these large, existential thoughts onto her own, personal existence: “I think a lot about what becomes popular with people in Western culture and how it perplexes me… I find myself wondering about the inequality of how we find ourselves cast.”  Her musings on these things, however, seem to come about when she’s partaking in relatively mundane moments of everyday life: “I think walking is really good for the mind and I think driving is good for the mind as well… I would say I do a fair deal of eavesdropping in public places.  I find there’s so much to glean from hearing other people speak casually.”

The finished product has Jesca resembling more of a vixen of sorts than any of her previous efforts.  Both the album art (as you can see) and the music itself have her resembling a postmodern anti-princess… quite powerful, quite quirky, and quite charming… as long as you don’t find yourself as her prey.  My favorite track, “Peacemaker,” inspired by a Greek Tragedy, is probably the sexiest song ever written about not having sex… aside from songs written by Morrissey… of course.  And her favorite track, “Deeper Devastation,” examines the fear of one’s own passions destroying the lives of others… well, existentially.  The sound of the album rings less of what you would consider “folk” than her previous works and more of slightly experimental space age singing and songwriting (No surprise, considering she recently toured singing backup vocals for Peter Gabriel.)

Although the new album is just dropping this week, Hoop has done quite a bit in 2012, aside from finishing the record.  She already toured the states, as support for the Punch Brothers (including an April 24 stop at the TLA): “The Punch Brother tour has been a real highlight.  They’re just such great people and astounding musicians.”  She’s currently touring the UK but, after that, she has plans to return to the states for more dates.  In the meantime, I would highly recommend checking out her YouTube channel, where she has the official music video for the album’s first single, “Born To,” and her own video commentaries to accompany the album’s tracks.


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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.