Life’s delicate balance is put on display
The fifth solo studio album from folk singer-songwriter and guitarist Jesca Hoop is her most gentle and unpredictable to date. The name Stonechild, based on the medical mystery of a child being completely calcified and carried by a woman in an unlivable state for years, is the basis of Hoop’s album. To be in a state of existing but to never really be alive creates an overall sadness that Hoop has portrayed before in her discography but never to this extent. The 44-year-old California native, known for her style of finger-plucked guitar playing, makes Stonechild the follow up to her highly acclaimed 2017 Memories Are Now. Composed in England with producer John Parish, Hoop creates a theme for Stonechild that includes an element of familiarity and vulnerability.
The 11-track album starts with “Free Of The Feeling,” a classic Hoop acoustic guitar plucking anthem. With a bit of old western flair and her folksy charm, the track changes tempo through each chorus and with the help from female vocal duo Lucius. Like a majority of the album, this first track remains a bit diverse from start to finish. In “Shoulder Charge,” Hoop gives herself another layer of mystery while singing about an unknown tragedy. With a layer of familiarity, Hoop and Lucius take the chorus with lyrics like, “There was no one I could trust to understand.” As the album goes on, concepts like love and loss are explored as one would expect with an album filled with truths. “Footfall to the Path” combines all of the best parts of Hoops musical career and creates a song about fading love.
“Red White and Black” speaks straight from her soul and with all of her gut as she chants down white supremacy and our current political climate. Perhaps what could be considered the folksiest moment on the album can be found in “Outside of Eden.” The sound of children playing start softly as Hoops vocals come in like a beautiful wind chime. A track based on our younger generations and their relationships with technology, Hoop with help from Kate Stables and Justis create a comfortable blanket of harmonies and quaint melodies. Stonechild is a complex idea of deep-rooted feelings with a heavy sense of empathy and Hoop makes every one of their feelings heard throughout every word.