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July 30, 2018 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Lost & Found – Jorja Smith

Lost & Found is the debut from British up-and-comer Jorja Smith, and follows her appearances on Drake’s More Life and the soundtrack from Black Panther. I especially remember her interlude on More Life being particularly captivating, so went into Lost & Found with high expectations – especially having heard none of her advance singles.
I was not disappointed in the slightest. Lost & Found fulfils the promise Smith displayed as a collaborator on these projects and, as far as a debut goes, displays immense potential for a long and successful career in the mainstream. Smith’s voice showcases dexterity and depth throughout, immediately positioning herself as a star likely to follow in the footsteps of the stellar British pop/soul singers that precede her (she’s not quite an Amy or an Adele, but I think she could get there – not to delve into hyperbole too much).
The title track serves as the opener, and will immediately excite fans of 90s R&B and hip-hop, largely due to its laid back boom-bap production and percussive vocal, perhaps reminiscent of Lauryn Hill. I realise I’m throwing around plenty of big names here, but Smith seems to have done her research and, as a result, draws from many of the best features of their music.

My favourite on the album is “Teenage Fantasy”, a song written by Smith while in high school. To me, this is a perfect pop song. The lyric is direct, and the bridge showcases an earworm  melody, but the chorus is the real gem here. It’s just so jammy, and showcases groove, grit, and sass that sets her apart from the myriad of neo-soul singers operating in the scene currently. “Blue Lights” is similarly gritty, again drawing from the boom-bap palette. Worth saying here that the production throughout Lost & Found is nothing short of immaculate – it’s not overproduced, and shines at the right moments while pulling back to allow Smith’s voice to soar. Smith even raps on “Blue Lights”, and does a pretty awesome job of it. There’s a distinctly human edge to Smith’s performances, and I can’t rave about it enough, clearly.

Lost & Found does have a couple of relative missteps – I’m not so big on “February 3rd”, and there are moments on the likes of “Lifeboats (Freestyle)” and “The One” that could have been sharper as far as lyricism and melodic intrigue. Still, I admire that Smith has gone for a tight collection of tracks here, as she doesn’t delve into the same excessive, bloated style of album composition that Drake or Rae Sremmurd have in recent weeks. Lost & Found isn’t perfect, but Jorja Smith really is a gem. I’d recommend her performance for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert in tandem with this album. Both works display an effortless sense of coolness and confidence, alongside a stellar voice and generally strong songs. This should appeal to many people, and I can see Smith taking off in a big way should even one of these songs gain traction in a mainstream sense.


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