Jorja Smith is an English singer and songwriter whose heartfelt and streetwise R&B has invoked comparisons to the likes of AlunaGeorge, Rihanna, and Amy Winehouse, the latter of whom the Walsall-based artist cites as her biggest influence. Within a three-year span, Smith appeared on the U.K. indie chart with her moody, MOBO-nominated debut single, "Blue Lights" (2016); she nearly cracked the Top Ten of the U.K. dance chart with "On My Mind" (2017); and after three additional MOBO nominations, she crossed into the Top 40 with the Stormzy-assisted ballad "Let Me Down" (2018). During this time, Smith also contributed to Drake's More Life playlist and the Kendrick Lamar-guided soundtrack for Black Panther, audience-expanding releases that intensified anticipation for her own Lost & Found (June 2018). Smith's album debut, a Top Five U.K. hit, was acknowledged with three Brit Awards nominations and a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. She has continued to build on her success, releasing tracks like 2019's "Be Honest," featuring Burna Boy, 2020's "By Any Means," and 2021's "Addicted." Raised on reggae, soul, and hip-hop, Jorja Smith was encouraged to pursue music by her musician father. She started performing at the age of eight, shortly thereafter began writing original songs, and later earned a music scholarship. After she completed her studies, she made her recorded debut in 2016 with "Blue Lights," a hip-hop soul single inspired by racist police motives. The song, issued through her own FAMM label, reached number 22 on the U.K. indie chart and was nominated for a MOBO award in the category of Best Song. By the end of 2016, she also added the Maverick Sabre collaboration "A Prince," the powerful "Where Did I Go?," and the five-track EP Project 11 to her discography. Smith's international profile was elevated in 2017 with contributions to Drake's play list More Life. Both of the songs on which she appeared, "Jorja Interlude" and "Get It Together," charted in multiple territories. A handful of additional solo singles, beginning with "Beautiful Little Fools" and "Teenage Fantasy" and concluding with "On My Mind," arrived throughout 2017. The last of the batch reached number five on the U.K. indie chart and peaked at number 54 on the pop chart. MOBO nominations followed for Best Female, Best Newcomer, and Best R&B/Soul Act. In early 2018, Smith released the conflicted ballad "Let Me Down," which featured grime artist Stormzy and eventually peaked at number 34 on the U.K. chart. Just as notably, she appeared on the Black Panther soundtrack with "I Am," a collaboration with album orchestrator Kendrick Lamar. This activity neatly set up the June arrival of Lost & Found, Smith's first album. A number three U.K. hit, it prompted Brit Awards nominations for Album of the Year, Breakthrough Act, and Female Solo Artist. In the U.S., it reached number 41, and Smith was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best New Artist. She returned in August 2019 with the track "Be Honest," featuring Burna Boy. Another song, "Kiss Me in the Morning," appeared in May 2020 as part of the soundtrack to the Damian Chazelle-helmed Netflix series The Eddy. More tracks followed, including 2020's "By Any Means" and 2021's "Addicted."
© Andy Kellman & James Christopher Monger /TiVo
© Andy Kellman & James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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R&B - Released May 14, 2021 | FAMM
After the impact Jorja Smith made with her 2018 debut album, she could be forgiven for taking her time in constructing her second. Lost & Found was such a fully-formed statement of intent, such an impressive slice of forward-looking and highly personal modern soul delivered with a relaxed confidence that belied the fact that the 21-year-old singer was still finding her footing in the music industry. Of course, the album was a chart success in the UK, and received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, and Smith has maintained fan interest since then with a steady drip of singles that have illustrated both her range and indefatigable need to make music. In 2020, she not only led off a Blue Note Records tribute album, but also had a hit collaboration with Popcaan, and any artist who manages that in a year is one who is burning off some serious creative energy. Be Right Back is more evidence of that musical power surge, as this eight-track release isn't even Smith's second proper album. No, this "project" as she's calling it, is sitting somewhere between an EP and a mixtape, but it's brimming with enough soulful swagger and innovative energy to keep listeners entranced until she finally does get around to an actual follow-up. The songs are brief (only one breaks the four-minute mark), but such concision results in strong impact. Some, like "Home" (which is primarily acoustic guitar and Smith's voice), are spare in arrangement and construction, while others, like "Digging," are more highly produced but still centered on Smith's unique and impactful vocal delivery. Whether toying with breakbeats on "Addicted" or adding filigree-like piano figures on "Gone," Smith is clearly comfortable dabbling around the edges of her sonic signature. It all builds toward "Weekend" which, at just over four minutes, is the longest cut here, but it's also the most complex, with a dense, layered production supporting a forceful vocal performance from Smith. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz