Album Review: Joy Crookes - Skin

Jasmin Bateman reviews Joy Crookes' debut album

Jasmin Bateman
29th October 2021
Joy Crookes from Instagram
Joy Crookes’ stunning debut album Skin is a bold declaration of self-identity, delving into her journey navigating young adulthood and the experiences that have shaped her life so far.

The previous two years have been busy for the 23-year-old singer-songwriter: after releasing several EPs, receiving a nomination for the BRITs 2020 Rising Star award and selling out a UK & Europe headline tour, Joy Crookes has finally released her hotly anticipated debut album. Skin explores deeply personal topics and portrays a soulful account of her upbringing as a young British-Bangladeshi-Irish woman from South London, and is also laced with penetrating social commentary. 

Family is a pervasive theme in the album; voice notes of family members feature on several tracks, adding context to the intimacy of the story these songs tell about Crookes’ life. Jazzy ‘19th Floor’ pays homage to her heritage, whilst also passionately castigating the gentrification of her childhood neighbourhood Elephant and Castle.

The title track ‘Skin’ was written for a loved one contemplating suicide, and the emotional depth of this recording is illustrated through the honest vocals. Lyrics “Don't you know the skin that you're given was made to be lived in? You've got a life, You've got a life worth living” demonstrate the touching authenticity of her song-writing.

Guitar led tracks like ‘Kingdom’ and ‘Wild Jasmine’ offer an energetic change in pace, with politically charged ‘Kingdom’ condemning the consistent failings of the British government: “No such thing as a kingdom when tomorrow’s done for the children”.

On several tracks, Crookes’ lyrics also illustrate the hardships of young love and relationships. The album opens with ‘I Don’t Mind’, a relatable and empowering tune about keeping a relationship strictly casual. Joy also depicts her path of healing in ‘Unlearn You’, a vulnerable melody about sexual violence in a relationship and dealing with sexual trauma.

Skin is a powerful and vibrant debut that candidly exhibits Joy Crookes’ talent as a writer and vocalist. Crookes is uniquely paving her way in the music industry and proving herself to be one to watch.

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