With co-signs from international megastar Drake and winning the BRITs Critics' Choice Award, Jorja Smith is one of the most talked about musical talents right now. Hailing from Walsall, West Midlands, the twenty-year-old has captured the attention of critics and tastemakers. Racking up millions of streams and appearing on the cover of countless magazines, Jorja Smith was also one of the UK representatives on Drake’s chart-topping project More Life, and her ethereal voice made her steal the show on the tracks she featured on. With a soulful voice and inner-city charm, Jorja Smith has been unsurprisingly compared to British soulful vocal powerhouses such as Adele and the late Amy Winehouse. So, with the release of her debut album Lost and Found, will this bring the songstress more accolades and cement her place as one of Britain’s best voices?
Lost and Found starts off with the titular track 'Lost and Found' that helps to set the mood for the sleek 12-track album. The introductory song starts off with murky sounds but then unravels into a jazzy piano production against which Jorja unveils her startling vocal ability. Following 'Lost and Found' is 'Teenage Fantasy,' which sees Jorja singing about the pitfalls of dating whilst young. 'Teenage Fantasy' is about the importance of self-love before romantic love and shows Jorja’s wisdom beyond her years. The singer continues to hammer home the importance of self-love with the third song 'Where Did I Go,' as she sings about how she lost herself in love and rediscovered her self-worth. The message of 'Where Did I Go' shows the aptness of the Lost and Found album title and the meticulousness of Jorja’s artistry. The fifth song 'On Your Own' sees Lost and Found take a different direction. Jorja is swaggering and defiant on 'On Your Own' where she tells her lover that he’s on his own. It’s a breakup song with bravado.
The boldest and best song on Lost and Found is 'Blue Lights,' the track that catapulted the singer into stardom. 'Blue Lights' was written when she was 18 and originally uploaded onto her SoundCloud account. Jorja was inspired to write the song by her A-level media coursework that explored post-colonialism in grime music and the discovery of a flick knife in her friend’s bag. The blue lights that Jorja sings about are in reference to the police, as she asks why “Don't you run when you hear the sirens coming, When you hear the sirens coming, You better not run 'cause the sirens not coming for you, What have you done?” The first two lines are borrowed from Dizzee Rascal’s 'Sirens,' which 'Blue Lights' samples. The mesh of Jorja’s questioning and Dizzee Rascal’s vocals explore the complicated relationship between the police and young people of colour. 'Blue Lights' is audacious and apt at a time when Britain’s inner cities are plagued by violent crime. 'Blue Lights' is the album’s masterpiece that captures the state of Britain’s disaffected youth and their fear of the authorities.
With 'Lifeboats (Freestyle),' Jorja offers more social commentary as she raps “So why are all the riches staying afloat? See all my brothers drowning even though they're in the boat.” Jorja’s rap skills need some tightening, but the playfully delivered, socially conscious effort adds to her loveable charm. The album’s final moments deal with saying goodbye. Tenth song 'Goodbyes' finds Jorja in a somber setting, as she sings about losing a loved one. 'Goodbyes' is sorrowful and shows that only Jorja Smith can make a song about remorse, grief and regret so pretty.
Jorja says goodbye in a different manner in penultimate song 'Tomorrow' and presents introspection as she accepts her role in the demise of this relationship. Jorja is frank as she sings “You've given me all of your time, You've been there for all of my crimes.” For the final song 'Don’t Watch Me Cry,' Jorja explores a toxic relationship again and this time her partner is at fault. 'Don’t Watch Me Cry' is heart-breaking and piercing, as Jorja sings "I'm not crying 'cause you left me on my own, I'm not crying 'cause you left me with no warning, I'm just crying 'cause I can't escape what could've been, Are you aware when you set me free? All I can do is let my heart bleed.” The final song brings the theme of being lost and found full circle.
Overall, Lost and Found is a divine debut. Jorja Smith is sleek and smooth, and her music is where streetwise meets soul, as she explores love and the bleakness of being a young person in Britain. The undeniable star of the show on Lost and Found is her arresting vocals, and you instantly grasp that she truly is an incredibly gifted singer. Lost and Found will give you goose-bumps, but also make you desperate to hear what Jorja Smith unveils next.
WORDS: ELLA JUKWEY (@ELLADECEMBER)