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. Right now, Rookes is touring with Angry Baby favourite DIDI, so there’s still chance to catch up with both of them (and DIDI’s band) live if you’re in the UK. If not, sit back and prepare to absorb the music here.
Before you read on, Rookes is giving a FREE download of “The Heel Of My Hand”, a special edition live recording of a track from the album, to Angry Baby readers. If you’re not already subscribed to Angry Baby, just pop the email address that you’d like it delivered to here and it will be on its way to you straight away, together with a bumper collection of music that has been shared by Angry Baby. The music comes from outstanding artists that you may not have heard before. With a mix of rock, pop, folk…you name it…there’s bound to be something new that floats your musical boat, and all for free! What’s not to like about that?!
Opening the EP with a folk-pop feel, title track “The Game & The River” gives a sweet, slightly angry exploration of emotion. Interviewed for ‘It’s All Indie’, Rookes offers insight into the origin and evolution of the track:
“The Game & The River is one of those songs that’s changed in its meaning for me as time has passed. 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’
Continuing her vocal masterclass, but with a contemporary electro-dance delivery, Rookes closes the EP with confirmation of her range and reach in “Joy of Joys – Mere Child – ROOKES Remix”. A track to carry listeners to wherever they need to go, there is a delicacy to Rookes’ offering – the offspring of Kate Bush’s fine-tuning and Enya’s mystical composition. Lie back and enjoy.
Rookes’ advice to anyone just starting out with their music is wise and astute:
The music industry is changing so much, and there’s no one way to do a music career these days. Learn to trust your instincts and take your time.
Catch Rookes on tour in a double-headliner with Angry Baby favourite DIDI – details and dates here . Or if you can’t make it, follow Rookes at:
And get your free download of music from Angry Baby now, including Rookes’ special edition live recording of “The Heel Of My Hand” – just pop your email down below