Memories Are Now

Jesca Hoop’s power is in her subtle manipulation. Though her sound appears as one-dimensional, bare-bones folk, a closer listen to Memories Are Now reveals many delicate layers that turn it into a living, breathing landscape: a world. Pardon the pun, but there’s something very circular about Hoop’s melodies, as though the verses never hit the ground but rather roll swiftly into spacious, simple choruses. On tunes like “Songs of Old,” Hoop projects something sparse with a folk narrative approach, while igniting brief, orchestral flourishes that move in and out like breathing. It’s the kind of master control of a minimal song that Joanna Newsom similarly takes with her older ones. There’s a huge factor that hasn’t been mentioned: Hoop’s music has a palpable rawness. On “Unsaid,” she uses gritty guitar tones, a tucked but explosive percussive approach, and harmonies that help ride a certain tension, somewhat reminiscent of artists like PJ Harvey. It’s a lot, but Hoop manages to wrap herself around it all profoundly.