thu 18/07/2024

Album: Jorja Smith - Falling or Flying | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Jorja Smith - Falling or Flying

Album: Jorja Smith - Falling or Flying

Anticipated second album from Walsall's biggest star is a sumptuous affair

Jorja Smith said she named her new album Falling or Flying to describe the uncertainty she’s felt about her career following the success of her debut, the Mercury Prize nominated Lost & Found. Would her career fall to earth or keep flying higher still?

For an outsider, the answer seems obvious. Her output since her debut has been confident and measured, releasing a handful of excellent singles and an elegant mini album which has only reinforced her as a mature, fully formed artist. But following up a debut is tricky, and self-doubt can grip anyone. Falling is a second album where you can feel Smith trying to find her feet again. It’s an album filled with sumptuous production but with less sharp song writing than before.

Jorja Smith’s neo-soul and R&B – all muscular back beats, slinky bass lines and guitar licks – sounds better than ever on falling. The production is handled by the relatively unknown duo DAMEDAME* as well as the in-demand producer J2P, who has been shaping the sound of contemporary afro-pop in recent years, working with Burna Boy, Beyoncé and J Hus.

The instrumentals are tastefully embellished with choirs (“Greatest Gift”) and string sections (“Backwards”), but a highlight is the minimal “Try and fit In” which strips back the instruments until all that’s left is an almost ambient, pulsating beat which sounds like holding a stethoscope straight to Smith’s chest. There’s a downcast, grey-scale atmosphere to the track list, which is cool, but the cheeky UK funky single “Little Things” is a welcomed splash of colour. “GO GO GO”, on the other hand, is a complete misstep. The distorted guitar and power-pop drumming is tinny and out of place.

The songwriting across the album isn’t as sharp as it was on her debut. Falling is haunted by a bad relationship: “I met a man/ did everything he could to put me down”, she sings on “Broken is the man”, which sounds like it has coloured her worldview, “I’m tired of all the fake shit” she laments on “She Feels”. Her detailed storytelling feels somewhat missed though. 

But is Jorja Smith falling or flying? With this album it would be bizarre to suggest anything other than the latter.

Jorja Smith’s neo-soul and R&B – all muscular back beats, slinky bass lines and guitar licks – sounds better than ever on falling

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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