Currently holding this year’s BRIT Critics’ Choice Award, Walsall born & raised, Jorja Smith had her breakthrough in the beginning of 2016, when her track “Blue Lights” hit over half a million plays on Soundcloud in less than two months from its release. Inspired by and sampling Dizzee Rascal’s “Sirens”, the track is about racial profiling and social injustice, so not only is the instrumental part of it powerful, but also its message. She took off from there.
The neo-soul/R&B singer and songwriter has just released her debut studio album Lost & Found and I thought I’d give you an overview and track-breakdown in case you haven’t managed to spin it yet.
Jorja is a bright example of a small town girl, who has attracted attention from around the world and set the bar high for herself early in her career and in her life in general, as she’s only just turned 21.
Having collaborated with Drake, Kali Uchis, Preditah, Stormzy, Maverick Sabre and recently Kendrick Lamar for a feature on the Black Panther film soundtrack, she has all eyes on her. The question is, did she deliver on the great expectations placed on her with this project? Well, let’s see…
Smith’s making transitioning from high to low notes seem ridiculously easy in the album’s opening song “Lost And Found“. “Are we really too young to be having so much fun? / ’cause I’m not quite sure right now”, she sings softly with apparent uncertainty. Her classical vocal training is evident throughout and her sweet humming completes the song.
Two previous singles follow, her R&B vibe “Teenage Fantasy” and the Cadenza-produced banger “Where Did I Go?“, both highlighting vulnerability, with a focus on self-love and realising one’s worth when it comes to relationships.
“I’ve been lost again and I’ve been found / I’m constantly finding myself” she shares at the end of “February 3rd“, her latest single release – a tender, easy-listening ballad, that sees her sticking to the main underlying theme of going through the motions of self-discovery.
Moving on, the orchestral start of “The One” turns dark, then straight into a melodic summer breeze, with Jorja’s delicate voice shining through, again shifting effortlessly between high and low notes, verses and chorus: “You will never hear me say / Come hold me, console me / When really I’m lonely / Even if I feel this way / I don’t wanna feel this way”.
A thoughtful freestyle titled “Lifeboats” comes on (right after her top-hit “Blue Lights”), which is a bit more upbeat and pleasant, with the distinctive, playful sounds of the brilliant Tom Misch, over which Smith is talking about power and survival: “So why are all the richest staying afloat? / A flood to take us under if we can’t afford the life jackets / Majority don’t even have the life jacket”.
The remaining songs – “On Your Own“, “Wandering Romance“, “Tomorrow” and “Don’t Watch Me Cry” only succeed in showing off her compelling vocals and impressive range, but are in fact indifferent and forgettable.
Moreover, “Goodbyes” – an acoustically led song about love and endings, is sadly not only lacking intensity and fire when it comes to the musical arrangement, but also its lines (“Goodbyes, good times / L-O-V-E was all for you“).
To conclude, despite her previously released singles that earned a spot on the album fitting well with the whole aesthetic, they still stand out and overshadow the rest. As a result, although authentic and ambitious, Lost & Found feels like a safe and laid back project with the majority of the tracks revolving around late-teen crushes, insecurities and finding oneself.
Released by FAMM, you can purchase Jorja Smith’s Lost & Found album on iTunes here, and stream it below.
Words by Sofia Theiakouli