Joy Crookes, her cats, and an album of soulful wisdom

Joy Crookes is having cat trouble.

The Brit Award-nominated singer is currently looking after a friend's pet Burmese, and it's encouraging some high jinx from her own little fur ball.

"If they're not eating my birthday cake from the weekend, then they're coming up with all sorts of naughtiness," laughs the singer, who has just turned 23.

For the next 40 minutes, our attempts to discuss her beautiful, vibrant debut album, Skin, are constantly interrupted by Nishu and Diego, who are convinced an empty can of tuna in the recycling bin is a gourmet feast of indescribable scrumptiousness.

"Argh, they're driving me crazy!" laughs Crookes, turning her camera around to record the carnage.

Messy imperfection is sort of Crookes' thing. Her music dwells in life's grey areas - love affairs that don't quite click; inter-generational trauma; the contradictions of online activism; the messy business of family relationships.

Her songs have been likened to Amy Winehouse and, for once, neither artist suffers from the comparison. These are deep, soulful songs shot through with hard-earned wisdom, and curiosity about her surroundings.

The sweeping jazz of 19th Floor reflects on her Bangladeshi-Irish heritage, while casting a mournful eye over the gentrification of her native Elephant and Castle - an inner-London neighbourhood.

"Skylines that I don't recognise/ Strip the life out of these streets/ It's a daylight robbery".

The city's characters - taxi drivers, Tory neighbours, young people discovering their sexuality, immigrants and anti-immigration protestors - are sprinkled throughout the record, informing Joy's own thoughts and experiences.

"I think I'm just interested in people," says the 23-year-old. "I'm interested in how we work. And because of that, I talk to a lot of people.

"I don't necessarily agree with all of them; but I grew up in such a multifaceted city - and a community within this city - that it feeds into my music. It's just how I've always been."

And so, against a backdrop of feline frolics, she let us into the album's deepest secrets.