Moving vocals and heart-rending instrumentals
Released on May 14, Be Right Back serves as English singer and songwriter Jorja Smith’s third EP. The 24-year-old artist landed a lucky discovery in 2012 through a YouTube cover and has kept a low profile since then throughout her career, with occasional hit guest features. Her debut album in 2018, Lost & Found, provided an introduction to who she was as an artist with a touch of a coming-of-age tone. Showcasing that even her throwaways deserve the spotlight, Smith makes a hard-hitting, low-lit return with Be Right Back.
Each song out of the eight-track EP differs from one another while maintaining heart-wrenching lyrics and a mellow guitar-and-piano sound. This style of production leaves room for creativity but in a way that cohesively flows. Smith speaks from her soul in “Addicted” about a shattered romantic relationship, passionately sung over rolling percussion and tainted guitar. She stretches out the word “addicted,” crying from a wounded heart as she says, “You are not addicted to me/ I’m the only thing you should need.” This start of the album tells a heavy, relatable story.
“Burn,” another track with a thick narrative, sounds as if the English singer is on the verge of tears, thus adding to the overall feel of the song. She wallows over the desire to break down but having to keep herself from falling apart. Referring to the term “burnout,” which is heavily used to describe being worn out/depressed from work, school and life in general, Smith reaches her hand out to fans going through the same struggle.
Heavy with the feelings of a local coffeehouse or an open mic-night, the strongest attraction towards “Time” is its acoustic guitar. It is the most head-bopping track of the album but still has a very light-hearted sparkle to it. However, the most appealing part of Be Right Back is not only the stories she tells but how Smith’s melodic, stretched voice dances through the instruments. It is most prevalent in “Digging” and “Weekend,” where various emotional perspectives are eloquently dragged out, just like her voice. The harmonizing echoes surrounding Smith’s vocals in “Digging” creates one of the most ethereal, moody tracks of the project. “Weekend” has the same echo entangling the song, but in a way that sounds like she’s singing in an opera house with an orchestra.
The touching emotions of Be Right Back make this EP for Smith a significant but subtle rebrand as an artist. It’s easy to say that a few moments of this project can date back to her debut in Lost & Found, but it’s quite clear that her confidence in her craft has expanded in the past three years and is only just beginning.