Jacko Hooper recently released his new album Respair. The album opens with the imaginative Nowhere. With gorgeous orchestration Jacko Hooper immediately affirms their musicality and insightful intention. The artist has a history of impressive collaborations and contributions to indie stand outs that include Bastille, Chet Faker, Michael Kiwanuka, and more. Nowhere shows that same genius that drew interest from emerging buzz artists eager to illuminate their own foundational compositions. With his solo project Jacko Hooper is able to explore his own compositional range and flex some eclectic flash. It’s heard on rare moments like the Theremin on Getting No Place Fast, which shimmers the musical atmosphere with its trademark vibrato and curious appeal. Both Nowhere and Getting No Place Fast feature big arrangements that adapt in tandem to the songs building drama. Nowhere is cinematic and presents like an opening score, a proper setup for whats to come.
The first two tracks are mostly an illusion though, one that accentuates his ability and offers some pomp and presence to his live show. For us the meat of the album most represents his intention as a solo artist and what he aims to communicate with this release. We dig the first two tracks, but they bring the catchy appeal meant to grab an unfamiliar listener. When you get to know Jacko Hooper, we suspect you will return to reconnect with one of the mid album sections, as he will likely find a place in your heart with his gut wrenching compositions.
The first major pivot comes with the sad soliloquy that is Zombie. The anti-folk gem mirrors the concept cover image of the characterized artist lost in gloomy despair. Hooper alternates between a raw emotional delivery where he lets his voice break, to a blended produced vocal. It creates a duet with his unconscious. The affects segways effectively into There’s Nothing Between Us, which builds roaringly into a chaotic exit section featuring an untamed band. Also including the subsequent It’s Been A Long Haul, Jacko Hooper could draw some comparisons to Bright Eyes and Alex G.
In contrast on the succeeding tracks his vibe evolves into more of a Damien Rice Indie Folk invention with The Dip, It’s More than Enough, and To Where We Retreat. Hooper takes on an exotic dreamy disposition, presenting as hopelessly romantic and charmingly candid.
The resolution comes with the title track, as Jacko Hooper reflects on his journey with steadfast conviction. “I never thought I was in control…” The repetitions and musical layers build like a mantra. It brings the work full circle. Stylistically we hear evidence of the anthemic works from Of Monsters and Men. Respair shares in the cinematic soundtrack appeal of the opening track Nowhere. Like a classic great screenwriter Hooper returns to the beginning. But as art evolves, so does his construction, as he leaves us with the final thought that is My Hometown’s Graveyard. The title itself draws unfair conclusions as to what may have inspired the sad boy appeal found within his songbook. Hooper embraces his croon worthy vibrato on this poetic ballad. It bears evidence of Lana Del Rey and Father John Misty, with its introspective lyrics and melancholy vibe. “My Hometown’s A Graveyard these days boys don’t come of age.”
Hooper casts a wide net within the indie folk canon. It honors his growing legacy as a purveyor of the scene, having founded Brighton based promotions company Folklore Sessions as well as its venue The Folklore Room. He doesn’t shy away from his own experience with mental health issues, and uses his music as a vessel to shed light, awareness, and understanding. For us, his music emulates the mixed realities and polar experiences known to burden someone who suffers from a variety of mental health challenges. From the outside looking in it can be confusing to comprehend how someone who seems to have it all together could be anything but jovial about their reality. Jacko Hooper lets you in patiently with lyrical iteration and progressive compositional flux. Respair is a great record for anyone who just doesn’t get it, or comfort and respite for those of us who need it.
Jacko Hooper is featured on our Best New Indie Playlist.