The moment Alex Crook stepped on stage he knew he’d found his calling. He was 16 and honing his craft as a harmonica and guitar player. The blooming musician didn’t waste any time, and within a year was performing his original songs on the stages of Brisbane’s live circuit.
Fast forward three years and Alex’s sister, Bec, was thrown in the deep end and handed a bass guitar with which to accompany her younger brother on stage. Her next step was to contribute to the recording of Alex’s debut EP, Character Building, in 2013. They have since maintained a fruitful partnership, spurned by a healthy dose of sibling rivalry.
“There is a competitive nature to being in the studio with your sister,” Alex explains, “as we are always trying to out do each other and play as many instruments as we can and see who can do better, which makes it exciting. “
Now Alex and Bec have released a follow-up EP, 21 Nights. This time Bec’s name is on the cover too. The brother and sister bunkered down in Byron Bay’s Music Farm with producer Paul Pilsneniks.
“Isolating ourselves with Paul Pilsneniks, our producer and referee, definitely made it a peaceful experience and minimized the sibling rivalry,” Alex says.
For Bec, 21 Nights was a natural continuation of the musical partnership between her and Alex. “We have always been a very close family network so we have always spent a lot of time together,” Bec says, “so playing music with Alex doesn’t really change that. If anything it brings us closer.”
The rapid evolution of Alex’s songwriting is reflective of his relatively young age, a time of steep transformation formed by the experiences of burgeoning adulthood. As such, the new release straddles youthful pop exuberance and mature, textured folk arrangements. The result is impossible to ignore, infectious in its melodies and impressive in its assuredness.
“I feel I have grown as a songwriter in so many ways since the release of my debut EP three years ago,” Alex says. “The songs and meanings behind the songs on 21 Nights are coming from a deep place and have found a maturity from having different experiences and relationships in my life.”
21 Nights opens with single ‘Suitcase’, a bouncing, kinetic slice of folk pop that sets the spirited tone of this release. Bec’s backing vocals prove a sweet counterpoint to Alex’s dynamic voice. The five tracks are buoyed by wide-eyed energy, and the double-edged desire to escape, to take off into the world and carve a destiny – while leaving something behind.
“The lyrics and themes of 21 Nights are a compilation of stories and experiences I had throughout the year, so much changed in such a short period of time from studying at uni to being a full-time musician, going between home and cruise ships, Australia and the Pacific Islands. It was an amazing time of my life where everything was constantly changing and that reflects deeply in the lyrics, where I was continually leaving from one place to the other.”
Another aim for Alex was cohesion, to write songs that belonged side by side. “After the release of Character Building and Broken Time, I felt like I wanted to put together a set of songs that related and blended nicely, instead of an EP with different styles mashed together,” Alex says.
With a resume that already includes appearances at Caloundra Music Festival, Tamworth Country Music Festival, Urban Country Music Festival, Surfers Paradise Live and Little BIGSOUND, the Crooks’ amazing journey looks set to continue.