In Review: Winnipeg Indie Pop Rocker JP Hoe’s New Album ‘Botanicals’

As the dust settles and a new reality is coming to form, Winnipeg indie rock singer-songwriter JP Hoe has encapsulated his journey through these trying times in his newest album, Botanicals, which officially dropped today, September 8th.

Hoe looks to extend the bond he has already created with his listeners over the course of four previous albums with this silver-lined 12-track collection. 

The overall production of the entire album is top-of-the-line, and includes a diverse collection of songs about love, loss, acceptance, and just getting through the darker times. The album was written, recorded, and produced by Hoe during his period of isolation throughout the pandemic, and his lyrics reflect his newly-refreshed desire to live his life to the fullest. 

Hoe opens his project with an emotional track called “Out of the Darkness,” that is layered with a dramatic string section and sentimental lyricism. The song is a journey with a deceivingly mournful beginning and theatrical build-up to a crashing conclusion. The piece perfectly displays Hoe’s ability to tell a story with his instrumentation.

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We talked with Hoe about his recent single, “Say What You Want to Say,” just a few months ago – which has a fun BBC Beatles-esque music video – and the tune fits perfectly alongside the other upbeat songs on the project like “I’ve Been Here Before” and “Leaving.”

“I’ve Been Here Before” gives off a bit of a spooky, country-inspired jive with mournful vocals that reference the feeling of deja-vu and a troubled wedding. The beachy melody featured in “Leaving” is perfect for any road trip playlist, as Hoe describes a need for a change in scenery and escaping non-optimal scenarios. The delicate woodwind solo during the bridge of the song is a unique touch between the groovy guitar melody. 

Old-timey sounding and backed up with lush harmony and a playful piano, “Where the Bullets Lie,” which comes in around the middle of the album, discusses endurance through hard times, and the helpless experience of watching your partner make mistakes with no remedy. Hoe’s commemorative theme intertwined with the intricate layers of instrumentation make for a feel-good, robust piece of music. 

Hoe slows it down with the earnest tracks, “All the Good Things” and “Where Are You Now,” which touch upon unsuccessful relationships and the need to move on. “Where Are You Now” features an emotional piano progression, gentle harmonies, and the occasional whistled melody that comes together for a profound conclusion. Compared to the emotional ballad, “All the Good Things” includes a bit more attitude as Hoe tells a frank story about love having a deadline and the repercussions of those relationships. 

Acting as a lively finale, “My Blood” closes out the album with bursts of vitality, as Hoe warbles about the pride he feels to have someone special by his side. Layers of piano, guitar, mandolin, and harmonies galore bring the project to a climactic conclusion, as Hoe finishes his emotional rollercoaster of a story that he has intertwined into every note of this album. 

For more of Hoe’s impressive collection of stories and vetted musicianship, you can look to his previous work, Hideaway, as well as his three other previous albums. Hoe will be bouncing around Canada to promote the album in the coming months.

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