No Hands, the JOY CROOKES Version

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

COLORS Studio x Joy Crookes

THERE'S A TON of dope female artists out right now, especially in R&B. Ari Lennox. SZA. Jhené. All are killing it. I gotta admit though, a lot of female singers sound the same to me. Not that they sound bad, I just honestly can’t tell who’s who half the damn time. So when I find a singer who’s got a unique voice, she automatically sticks out. One of my absolute favorite finds of 2020 was London's own Joy Crookes. Nah she’s not Mariah, but this woman’s can sing her ass off. Not quite nasally and not quite raspy, her sound leans more on the twangy side… I think? Almost like her accent is betraying her while she sings. All I know is her voice stands out which is a big deal, well for me at least.

Born to a Bengali mother and Irish father, you could say her influences were likely to be a little diverse which thankfully really sticks out in her music. Unlike many pop-R&B singers, she features a heavy dose of “performed music,” not just straight beats, which I love. Definitely helps that she grew up playing and writing music (she’s not just a great singer but she plays guitar at her live performances). Her songs might not be as jazzy as someone like Jorja Smith, but honestly I wouldn’t be surprised to see her get there at some point, even if it’s only for a couple tracks. Musically, it really stands out how she’s able to put out songs that use a lot of traditional instruments while fitting in perfectly with the times. It’s modern and yet not exactly what you’d expect, in a good way of course.

The music checks out without a doubt, but her lyrics? What’s the deal with those? If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you can relate to at least one Joy Crookes song. And no, I don’t mean just romantic - if you’ve been in any type of relationship, she got you. For sure she got songs about sex and all that, but she goes so much further, diving into connections with friends, family, and even her city, each one executed more beautiful than the last.

There’s a bunch of great, upbeat songs she’s put out, but what so many artists have taught us is that the best songs come out of pain. They’re the most emotional, intimate, and relatable and for Crookes, these songs are some of her best. Whether it’s about dealing with mental health like she does on Anyone But Me, dealing with both sexism and racism on Power, or coming to terms with being taken advantage of on Since I Left You, Crookes has followed in The Weeknd’s path of making amazingly painful songs you can’t help but listen to.

2020 fucked up a lot of people’s plans and for Crookes it was no different. Still without an album, I hope we get more of her in our lives this year. After the year we had last year, I know she’ll have a couple good things to sing about. Whichever Friday midnight her first LP does find its way into the public, I can already tell you what I’ll be listening to first, second and third.

PERSONAL FAVORITES: Hurts, Two Nights, No Hands, Sinatra, Don’t Let Me Down, London Mine

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