Whatever happened to Brooklyn Roebuck?
By Greg Holden
Last I heard from Brooklyn Roebuck’s mother, 25 months ago, Roebuck was supposed to be huge in two years. That hasn’t happened yet, but Roebuck released a video with an original, Doll, on Halloween that says she is on the right track. Doll is the first sign of artistic independence, a maturing artist breaking free from the chains of her surroundings.
Roebuck will look back and see a very young singer behind that mask when she is 30. Everyone else will see an old heart, weary, neglected and defeated. The song is an introspective peek at what it is like to have no control over your own affairs. Roebuck begins to take that control with Doll. The song is spooky on many levels and reveals a side of Roebuck we have not seen before. The video is staged, the costume matches the song, even if the written introduction claims it was simply “appropriate”, as if it was a coincidence that she is dressed as a doll singing about being a doll. Songwriters do not accidentally get dressed up to represent their lyrics. The timing of the costume itself indicates Roebuck used the guise of Halloween to portray her lyrics. Roebuck steps out on Doll, but within the safe confines of her family home and almost apologetically.
The video is a good sign for Chatham’s favourite voice and a great sign for any young songwriter. Doll is a breakthrough moment for Roebuck’s growth as a singer/songwriter. Her new comfort zone includes portraying herself as a trapped within her own circumstance. If that isn’t an artist crying to be let loose on the world, what is? No-one expects Roebuck to fly off to Hollywood quite yet, she is at least three years from that. Doll is a low-end production, a terrifically written song, it is performed well, it is not a cover of some old standard, it is not haggard down by ideas clearly not her own, it is Brooklyn alone…. raw, ambitious and sad.