Jesca Hoop's "The House That Jack Built"

Jesca Hoop's "The House That Jack Built"

Raised by Mormon folk singer parents, a former nanny to Tom Waits and encouraged by Guy Garvey to move from her native California to Manchester, there was always a danger that Jesca Hoop’s rather curious resumé could overshadow her talents as a singer-songwriter. 

However, her third album, The House That Jack Built, is arguably just as intriguing as her back-story. Flirting with everything from Twin Peaks-esque Americana on “Deeper Devastation” to anthemic tribal pop on “When I’m Asleep,” it’s an admirably fearless record, which explains why the Elbow frontman became so instantly smitten with her music. 

Having recruited a trio of producers to help shape her vision, there’s understandably more of a polished sheen than 2009’s Hunting My Dress. This is demonstrated particularly on “Hospital (Win Your Love),” a charming tale of an attention-craving child which echoes the playful 80s pop of Cyndi Lauper. 

Elsewhere, opener “Born To” channels the melancholy of Suzanne Vega before bursting into a gutsy slice of angular indie-rock, while “Peacemaker” blends Middle Eastern twangs with atmospheric synth beats and suspenseful strings to create a suitably dramatic soundtrack for its Greek tragedy theme.     

But Hoop also isn’t afraid to strip things back either. The title track is a heart-breaking reflection on the recent death of her father which recalls the soul-searching blues of Jeff Buckley, while “D.N.R.” approaches the same subject in a similarly delicate manner, but with a rustic nu-folk vibe akin to the likes of Laura Marling.

Waits has previously described her sound as being like “a four-sided coin,” and with its hugely eclectic melting pot of sounds, The House That Jack Built more than lives up to her former boss’ claims.

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