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Jesca Hoop’s new album Memories Are Now, out February 10th on Sub Pop Records, wastes no time in making clear its confidence, confrontation, and craftsmanship. The stark and reverberant title track opens the album with “a fighting spirit,” says Hoop, serving as an anthem to push through any obstacle and put forth your very best work. And she has unequivocally done that here, with an album of stunningly original songs--minimalist yet brimming with energy, emerging from a wealth of life experience, great emotional depth, and years of honing the craft of singing. As riveting as it is reflective, the album, produced by Blake Mills (Fiona Apple, Alabama Shakes), is a fresh debut of sorts for Hoop, as the first of her solo records made outside of Tony Berg’s Zeitgeist Studios where she and Mills were mentored. Says Hoop, “Blake is so utterly musical and emotionally intelligent in his expression. I wanted to see what we could do, just he and I out from under Tony’s wing.” Mills pushed her to strip away layers, keeping it as close to the live experience as possible, using whole live takes and working very quickly. “It's still covered in embryonic fluid, for lack of a better way to put it,” says Hoop. However fast the work, Memories Are Now covers a great deal of ground, showcasing every edge and curve of Hoop’s captivating voice, with sounds and themes ranging from the mythic to the deeply intimate. She sings of the religion that weighs heavily on her past and the world, of the imagination of myth, of the cruel nature of life and love. The defiance that permeates Memories Are Now is both a product and necessity of a career that has been independently driven and self-funded from the beginning. “All of my successes have been won on the grassroots level, with handshakes and hugs from great people who believe in me,” says Hoop, more than a decade into her career and with new paths to forge. As she sings in the title track, “I've lived enough life, I've earned my stripes. That’s my knife in the ground, this is mine.” --Evie Nagy