Order of Romance

Jesca Hoop

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Order of Romance Review

by Marcy Donelson

For her first album of original material since 2019's Stonechild, Jesca Hoop returned to the studio with Stonechild producer John Parish (This Is the Kit, Aldous Harding). Joining them were a different set of collaborators, including drummer Seb Rochford (Babyshambles, Polar Bear), bassist Jon Thorne (Lamb, Yorkston/Thorne/Khan), backing vocalists Chloe Foy and Rachel Rimmer, and This Is the Kit's Jesse Vernon, who wrote arrangements for the accompanying horn and woodwind quintet. Steeped in a direct, spacious sound and no-nonsense tone that leave folkier proclivities behind, Order of Romance revisits themes of empathy. Reportedly inspired by Ani DiFranco's "Revolutionary Love," a song DiFranco played when they toured together in early 2020, "Hatred Has a Mother" is a lively, tuneful, percussive entry with rich vocal harmonies that welcome others to unlearn hate. A more cautionary song about forming beliefs and allies to begin with, "Sudden Light" adopts an eerier sound with slinky upright bass, on- and off-head drumming, atmospheric flutes, staccato horns, and a nearly continuous, circular vocal line. An American ex-pat based in Manchester, England, for over a decade at this point, Hoop addresses paranoia and politics on another unsettling track, "Sioux Falls," whose singsongy verses eventually give way to highly melodic choruses. A more lyrical track whose harmonized vocal melody is set against a bass countermelody and punctuated by horns, "Firestorm" reflects on the wildfires of her home state of California before the album closes on the even sparer "Lyrebird." That song's delicate fingerpicked guitar and supportive bass are only occasionally joined by minimal piano as Hoop poetically takes stock of "trouble the world over" from a more personal point of view. Astute throughout, Order of Romance's quirky, spontaneous renderings hold attention like a dramatic reading, if there is less for Hoop than usual to linger with listeners when it's over.

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