Describing herself as a Birmingham-native but based out of London, Rookes is the indie-pop project of Jenny Bulcraig. In development since October 2016, the debut EP The Game & The River provides a worthy showcase for her talent.
Opening the EP with a folk-pop feel, title track “The Game & The River” gives a sweet, slightly angry exploration of emotion. Rookes explains that the song changed its meaning over time:
“It was originally written as a bit of a pay-off. I was washing my hands of the first (doomed) love I had for another woman, which then forced me to come out as queer. It felt like I was walking into a different world and I didn’t know how to behave or function in this new identity – like water suddenly flowing in the opposite direction. But now I listen to the song and it feels like it speaks more to me about how women are finally breaking out creatively and resisting the temptation to please anyone or play by the rules that are set before them – which offers a different kind of gratification.”
Taking up the tempo, “The Heel of My Hand” combines complex arrangements, edging towards rock, nodding at country and hinting to psychedelia, providing a platform for Rookes’ ethereal vocal. Fusing genres from across the spectrum – we’re guessing that there’s some classical training at play here – there are twists and turns a-plenty. Don’t over-think it, just enjoy the pleasure of a song well-crafted and expertly delivered.
Stripped-back, slow and smooth with a Celtic-folk feel, “God Knows” is a testament to vocal control. Every note, every inflection is perfectly placed, building tension and emotion through a sound-work that says everything in one line: “God knows how I love you.”
Closing the album with an ’80s feel, “Sidelines” offers another examination of Rookes’ exquisite vocal delivery. Settling her voice over percussion, with the occasional introduction of woodwind, this is Rookes in experimental mode, demonstrating her creative range and with a hint of future potential.
Catch Rookes on tour in a double-headliner with one of our Favourite Hidden Gems of 2017 DIDI – details and dates here . Or if you can’t make it, follow Rookes at:
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