Wednesday, November 03, 2021

'Skin': an album that truly brings you Joy

For an album that both bares all and delves elegantly into a politically fuelled landscape, ‘Skin’ is undoubtedly a debut that blows so many others out of the water. Inevitably set to be compared to the late and great Amy WinehouseJoy Crookes embodies the reincarnation of such potent storytelling; beautifully entwined melodies; and charmingly striking vocals.

The exploration of relationships in ‘I Don’t Mind’ and ‘When You Were Mine’ sees Crookes delve into two very different situations. Crooke's notion that "I am not your lover / I'm just for Friday nights" in comparison to her not being able to forget a former relationship elsewhere on the debut, sees the singer toy with a range of emotions.

This is highlighted further in ‘To Lose Someone’ which was inspired by advice from Crookes’ mother. The track conveys how you should focus on the good things in life and sees a more vulnerable side to the singer as she vocalises: “Will I hurt you like they hurt me?”. Again, whilst the album is one that both comforts and soothes, there is a much wider wisdom to Crookes that is far beyond her years.


Not to be mistaken for boasting a simplistic tracklist, ‘Skin’ places such tunes alongside those of ‘19th Floor’ and ‘Power’ which explicitly confront the British-Irish-Bangladeshi artist's heritage and persona: “bopping down Walworth Road / bubblegum blow". Crookes not only sings that “melanin is not your enemy" on the penultimate track, but also had the slogan printed on t-shirts last year to pay homage to her favourite jazz singers. The album unquestionably sees the singer's artistic flair shine through but also sees a piece of Crookes included in each and every track.


On the other hand, ‘Kingdom’ hits back at England’s current disarray and stresses Crookes’ politically active mindset. The singer’s talent sees her produce an array of slow, jazz-infused melodies that are teamed alongside more upbeat, traditionally arranged tunes. Perhaps it is ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me Now’ that truly epitomises this as a bass-driven track which has, in time, become a fan favourite and stands to reason as to why Crookes is as talented as they come.


'Unlearn You' sees the singer-songwriter also deal with the topic of assault and abuse: “Words that burn me like a cigarette”. Crookes is able to produce a narrative that is adorned with a silky piano melody and calming ‘heart-on-my-sleeve' vocals which turn a harrowing topic into a beautifully performed product - inevitably becoming much more than just a song to some.


‘Skin’ is an album that encapsulates Crookes’ adolescence - making it an apparently relatable reflection of modern Britain. And yet it also reflects Crookes as a heavily influential, and profoundly unique, emerging artist.


A debut that is ambitious enough to grab and hold your undying attention, whilst remaining true to the artist behind the masterpiece, ‘Skin’ really does bare all, and how glad we are that it did.


Lauren Whitehead

@laurenwhtehead @laurenwhiteheadjourno

 Image: ‘Skin’ Official Album Cover

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