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REVIEW: Joy Crookes Shines on New EP 'Reminiscence'

An effortless combination of straddling soul, seeking and searching, displacement and love.

27th Jan 2019

Joy’s new EP ‘Reminiscence’ is a stunningly accomplished evocation of female hardship and awe-inspired love.

Her unsparing eye for observation is condensed into every song, showing her ability to both observe and reflect, truly making her EP come alive. Her lyrics are refreshingly real, stripped of clichés and crafted with great style. They grip you, they take you on a journey, an exploration of longing and love. The first song in her EP ‘Two Nights’ jumps straight into the difficulty of modern love, you can immediately feel the emotion behind Joy’s voice which carries a bitterness contrasting with the song’s up-beat techno sound.

The bold contrast caught my attention, an uncommon move in music, however I feel this made Joy’s song stand out, its cleverly disguised as a nightclub track, a song to throw your hands up to, but the truth is that it’s so much more than that. The more times I listened to the song, the harder it got to hear, I knew Joy had been hurt, and it cut deep. Her most powerful lyrics of the song: “Just cos I’m afraid of loving, don’t mean I don’t want to love him, running circles with no shame, but always coming back to nothing.” Joy is pumping her love into a vacuum, exhausting herself through a lack of reciprocated love, she finds difficulty in striking a balance between settling for love and pushing herself out of her comfort zone to find real love, which could in turn, end up with her “coming back home to nothing.” The song ends on light melodious chords, which slowly sizzle out leaving time for the listeners own reflection.

Her next song ‘Man’s World’, draws parallels between Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, her voice changing in pitch to sultry, darker tones. From the moment I hit the play button, I envision her in a dark Jazz bar, swaying to her music with the rhythm that only musicians and dancers can truly tap into. I’m hooked. Her lyrics draw on apocalyptic imagery, the storm and turmoil representing the unpredictable, uncontrollable act of love. This song caries attitude, I feel a wall building around her notions of ‘love’. She derails the idea that a woman needs a man to be complete, and that a woman must compromise for a man to which she calls ‘stupid.’ I’m so lost in this song, that I hardly notice the next song play. The similarities between sound make it feel like these two songs have merged, perhaps not her intention but ‘Lover don’t’ really does feel like an homage to ‘Man’s World.’ I think if it were to be separated lower down on the playlist this wouldn’t have been the case, but I enjoy long songs and the fact that it flowed so seamlessly is beautiful.

‘Don’t Let Me Down’ opens with softly played acoustic sounds, that compliment her silky voice. However, I felt the brevity of this song unlike the others. Its focus was less on lyrics and more on music. The music was fitting and carried heavy chords, and the multiple background noises still managed to push their way to the front. Every second of the music was enjoyable and relaxing.

Joy Crookes saves the best song for last. This song sounds like poetry, it speaks of her happy memories of South East London. A memoir of youth and love: “it’s not about where were living make the most for a minute.” A reflection of what happiness means to her, that love has no grounded place it can be everywhere yet nowhere at the same time. Omnipresent. Her lyrics are full of rich lines such as “we hide our grief behind smiles and we run around and laugh because that’s our style.” Her lines are punchy, impactful and they get the message that she wants out fast behind an upbeat track. This song is the most engaging. Although, admittedly, Joy’s other songs are all equally deserving of their own praise but this song stands out above the rest. It feels young, melancholic yet energetic – truly an eclectic mix of versatile emotions and her struggle in unlocking what love means to her. Listening to Joy’s songs will leave you feeling emotionally depleted, because you not only feel her music, but you take her music deep into your soul, a magical experience.

Joy Crookes is clearly destined for success, be sure to listen to 'Reminiscence' below on Spotify:


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