After leaving jaws on the floor nationwide with ‘Blue Lights’ in 2016 at the age of just 18, the weight of expectation must have been heavy for Jorja Smith. In the two years since, she’s barely put a foot wrong; winning Brit Awards, selling out tours and covering magazines (including ours!) while the world waited for her debut. Musically, she’s drip fed just enough to keep us satiated while honing her first album.
“I’ve been lost,“ says Smith on ‘February 3rd’. “I’ve been lost again, and I’ve been found. Then I found myself again, but I’m constantly finding myself.” The lyric is a reference to her personal life, but it also rings true sonically on the album. She often reaches dizzying pitches with her vocal in such a way that she seems to have completely given herself over to song. She’s lost in it, and it's utterly compelling, until a shift in style brings her out of rapture and back down with a bump, only to find herself somewhere slightly different. There are, at times, touches of Winehouse and glimmers of Badu to her voice; an almost hyperbolic comparison to make given their comparative heritage, but her astonishing range and ability warrant it.
Any artist of note will tell you they’re influenced by all kinds of different musical genres, and Jorja Smith is no exception. On ‘Lost & Found’, the hook on ‘Teenage Fantasy’ is straight out of an early ‘00s R&B cut. Jazz exerts a force right from the album’s title track (and indeed throughout) and, needless to say, Dizzee Rascal interpolation ‘Blue Lights’ nods to her affinity with rap, a discipline in which she regrettably dabbles on freestyle ‘Lifeboats’. The moments at which Smith manages to distill any of these genres into something entirely her own are truly special.
It’s the first full length album from a young creative brimming with ideas and promise. While ‘Lost & Found’ doesn’t feel like Jorja Smith’s magnum opus, it’s a brilliant first draft.
Words: Lewis Lister
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