Joy Crookes seems an older soul than her 20 years. Tender but assured, the singer-songwriter’s soft, husky vocals meld sophisticated soulfulness with rich instrumentation; gentle guitars, punches of brass, glimmering piano and intriguing trip-hop percussion all find a home in her entrancing sound. Crookes’s forthcoming second EP, Reminiscence, feels an ideal comforting antidote to the winter blues.
On it, she tackles relationships, grief and jadedness against the backdrop of youthful British culture (obviously, reference is made to chicken shops). Lines such as “Just cause I’m afraid of loving/ don’t mean I don’t want to love him” and “Lover don’t feed my fantasy” find a natural storyteller grappling with the fear of hurt versus a desire to luxuriate in love. Self-love is on the agenda too, not least at the end of Man’s World, when she samples a famous Eartha Kitt interview, replete with glorious laughter: “A man comes into my life and I have to compromise? Stupid.”
Crookes’s beguiling artistry extends to her visuals too. Raised in south London by her Irish father and Bangladeshi mother, in her latest video for the woozy Don’t Let Me Down (Demo) Crookes channels Hindu goddess Lakshmi, resplendent in gold, with myriad arms swimming beautifully behind her.
Identity and honesty are keystones of her work, and their timelessness give Crookes a sense of longevity. As she said to creative platform the Slog last year: “I’m not here for five minutes and I want to make sure of that. I see myself growing, getting older and having more and more to write about.”
• Reminiscence is released on 25 January on Insanity Records. Joy Crookes plays Omeara, London, on 27 February