Thursday, November 02, 2023

In Praise of Brooke Combe

Brooke Combe appeared at the tail end of 2020 thanks to the miracle of social media, largely bypassing the usual obstacles that stand in the way of aspiring talent.

 Her acoustic version of Baccara’s ‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie’ has around 30,000 views on X, or Twitter as it was back then, and resulted in a recording deal with Island Records. 

The song didn’t go viral in a vacuum though, it was already the unofficial anthem of the Scottish football team and the studio single was released to coincide with the European championships in 2021. The big question is, did Island spot an undiscovered star, or did they jump on the novelty song bandwagon? What else did Brooke Combe have to offer?

In part, this question was answered with the album ‘Black is the New Gold’, released in April 2023 which featured the anthemic soul stomper ‘Are You With Me?’ and the sophisticated dancefloor filler ‘Miss Me Now’. The collection might be regarded as a new artist, defining their genre and finding their musical feet.

With the new release, ‘Praise’, gone is the sassy, stylish newcomer, replaced by a queen in demand of praise, hence the song title. It’s a stronger, more direct, more demanding progression of Combe’s songwriting, perhaps describing her evolved demands of a personal relationship or perhaps even commenting on her growth as an artist, from rising star to someone who has earned her place on your playlist.

On stage back in October 2022, Combe certainly postured and strutted like a veteran performer so perhaps the crown she demands is warranted; “Bow your head and give me praise/raise a crown on my parade/Bow down to your queen and give me praise

The song opens in typical R&B style, suggesting that Combe has given into the demands of the record company to be a bit more saleable, a bit more mainstream. Fortunately, after a routine opening the song changes direction and picks up the pace, bringing in the soul/Motown energy that Combe is so fond of. With vocals soaring above the opening distortion, the song lifts to a powerful conclusion and ends with an abrupt fade, leaving a sense of wanting to hear more.

Above all else, ‘Praise’ shows that Combe has built on some exciting foundations and is developing both musically and artistically. Whether she’s ready for the crown or not, her confidence certainly inspires a closer listen.

Peter Freeth



Image: Peter Freeth

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