The House That Jack Built

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A passionate and deeply motivating collection of songs rather than a combined piece of work, Jesca Hoop’s new album The House That Jack Built is exceptional. Released two and a half years after Hunting My Dress, it’s more polished and refined, with greater emphasis on the darker emotions of Jesca’s childhood memories and her struggle to deal with her father’s passing. An eclectic mix of blues, folk and electronic pop gives the album an intense reflection of her own thoughts and provoking issues, as heard in the opening track, “Born To”, which addresses the question, why are people born into a certain way of life? (wealth, famine, tragedy). It has beautifully picked melodies on the mandolin combined with guitar and synthesizer to create a sense of suspicion. Following on, the album’s title track is not only a unique way of expressing the sorrow she felt about her Father’s death but also displays a powerful contrast between the gritty guitar licks and emotive screams which haunt and intensify her heartfelt lyrics (“I carried a bag of rock and stone, full of memory, of our family”). The fourth track on the album, “The Hospital”, establishes the desperation she felt as a child fighting for the acceptance of her parents. And moving through the album, “Deeper Devastation” is a hypnotic, pulsing song about trust where tight harmonies and backing vocals bring a haunting effect with the words “Under the power of our one and only sun” repeated throughout. Other songs such as “Peacemaker” pull on more of a story than a childhood memory. It is a Greek tragedy of sex, violence and obsession with gods, with a pulling rhythm to reel you in. The support of Elbow vocalist Guy Garvey and Tom Waits gave her an excellent head start. Formerly working as Waits’ nanny, Jesca has collected many friends in high places, which has enabled the album to have a more polished finish. The House That Jack Built gives you an insight, not only into her charisma, but her exploding childhood and need of affection through the husky folk vocals. New listeners will certainly become reeled in with her expressive gripping ballads and her revolving rhythms that make you want to hear more and more of her music.