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Joy Crookes and the Fragility of Skin

Door Marc Zisman |

With a brilliant first soul pop album called "Skin", the young Briton follows in the footsteps of her elders Amy Winehouse, Adele and Jorja Smith...

After being spotted by Sony on YouTube for a cover of Hit The Road Jack, Joy Crookes raised the bar with several acclaimed EPs and over 10 million views on COLORS. Quickly compared to the great voices of those like Shirley Bassey, Amy Winehouse, Adele or to rising stars like Cleo Sol, Jorja Smith or Arlo Parks, the Briton demonstrates on her first album that she is charting her own course. "It's one of the strongest parts of our bodies. But in every other sense, socially and externally, it is used against us}".

Skin is a metaphor for this "strong castle" identity, solid but constantly under attack. The young singer, at only 23 years old, born to a Bengali mother and an Irish father and raised in Elephant & Castle, decided to make this debut record a self-portrait.

Crookes' intimate and political lyrics can be listened to like a diary; her musical contours reflect that typical South London sound. The proof is in Trouble, with its reggae tuba and female backing vocals, or the excellent Wild Jasmine, which smells like good old R'n'B with its effective hooks. In the nebulous landscape of English soul, Crookes opts for classy orchestrations which creates the perfect backdrop for her velvet voice. This gives her music a classic touch without being overtly retro. The album is a mix of restrained (I Don't Mind), dramatic (19th Floor) and jazz, like When You're Mine with all the horns and the revelation Chelsea Carmichael on saxophone.

Crookes also demonstrates she is also capable of showing vulnerability, with just her and a piano for the ballads Theek Ache and To Lose Someone. Airy, never boring, Skin is the of pinacale a feel good soul-pop album with iron lyrics in a velvet voice. A tour de force.


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