8/10



We're not quite sure how the fact that Jesca Hoop used to put Tom Waits to bed (as his babysitter) is pertinent to her C.V, but it is quite interesting, hence why people will keep mentioning it, like we just did.



Also quite interesting is the fact that Hoop was raised as a Mormon, but then so were Stephanie Meyer, Glenn Beck and Mitt Romney and that didn't help them overcome their predilections for writing crap, raping and murdering young girls in 1990 or losing the 2008 presidential candidacy.



In actuality, it's all just window dressing, life experiences are only what you make of them: they can send you down both good and bad pathways in life. For her part, Jesca Hoop has chosen to channel hers through the medium of pastoral folksiness, laying down a few signposts en route pointing squarely towards Kate Bush, Bjork, Bat For Lashes and Regina Spektor.



As if sculpted from the earth itself, Hoop's second full-length album is rich in natural minerals. Allegorical allusions to the world around us abound on the album. "Angel Mom" is like a leaf on the wind and invites you to watch how it soars. "Feast of the Heart", the repressed yearnings for explosion, an undying tautness which threatens to combust at any moment before being pushed down through breezy winds of pop.



Then you could look to "Four Dreams" which appears to be either a prayer to Gaia or a lullaby for the woodland creatures hopping around about. More straightforward fare is available on the map also. "Murder of the Birds" is the hallowed duet of Hoop and Elbow's Guy Garvey and pits Hoop into unfamiliar vocal territory, requiring her to raise her pitch an octave or two in order to harmonise with Garvey's hushed, respectful intonation.



It has become abundantly apparent that we are never going to short of country/folk sirens beguiling us with earthen ballads, connecting themselves to the very ground. Last year we had the rather lovely Laura Marling, and we can safely slate 2009 as being grabbed by the late contender of Jesca Hoop.