Young, romantic and deeply soulful
Jorja Smith is a young, new voice on the scene, but her debut album Lost & Found shows no signs of the usual growing pains that come with fresh artists. Her unique and powerful voice has already garnered her plenty of attention; she’s already collaborated with big names like Drake and Stormzy, had tracks featured on the soundtracks to Black Panther and HBO’s Insecure and booked spots on music festivals worldwide. Lost & Found proves over the course of its 12 tracks that Smith’s meteoric rise is well deserved, and we can expect her to be a force in the industry.
Lost & Found opens up with the title track, and it quickly becomes clear that this will not be the trendy trap/hip-hop influenced pop that is currently dominating the airwaves. Instead, Smith delivers jazz-infused R&B tracks that sound like artists like Erykah Badu and Amy Winehouse. Her voice needs no autotune and plays perfectly with the actual instruments backing her (as opposed to commonly employed computer tracks.) “Teenage Fantasy” is a song perfectly encapsulating the feelings of young love—written when she was only 16, it is soulful beyond her years. Later, “The One” is particularly notable for its dancehall beat. Like many of the tracks, it deals with the complicated feelings of young love, particularly when Smith sings that she’s “never had to work for love,” a young woman grappling with the difficulty of being in a relationship that is complex and demanding and struggling with whether to put in the work or move on.
Two later tracks depart from the general theme of youth and matters of the heart. “Blue Lights” is one of Smith’s early tracks, where she discusses the tensions between police and civilians (particularly young Black people). Her soulful vocals provide a depth of emotion appropriate for the topic, but it is also one of the tracks that showcase her rap abilities as well. The following “Lifeboats (Freestyle)” continues the theme of social commentary through rap. Smith’s rap flows over a drifting beat, periodically singing the heartbreaking hook “Why do we watch them drown? We’re too selfish in the lifeboat.” Smith continues to show that she has the emotional and intellectual scope to cover some of life’s heaviest topics with poise.
Lost & Found demonstrates that Smith has an impressive musical talent. She doesn’t shy away from her youth, rather she embraces it with honest lyrics about feelings and issues that will resonate with all listeners, but particularly with her contemporaries. Smith’s choices of musical styles and instrumentation are the perfect fit for her vocally, but there is no doubt she will be able to dominate any genre she chooses in her future endeavors. A powerful debut, Lost & Found is playable end-to-end and ensures her a fanbase that will eagerly await her future releases.