Jorja Smith, Lost and Found - album review
Walsall's Jorja Smith is one star that keeps on rising and shining ever-brighter.
She has had a phenomenal couple of years that has seen her collaborate with Drake (including introducing him to her local Co-Op), work with Stormzy and sing with Kendrick Lamar on the soundtrack for smash hit Marvel film Black Panther.
Now it's time for her to release her solo material, her debut record that was written over three years between the ages of 17 and 20.
It's polished with a full sound, a mixture of pop and R&B that sounds intimate and delicate given her often softer approach to vocals. The less-is-more approach to the beats and rhythms power her forward without drowning her out.
It has garnered her this year's BRIT Critics Choice Award, while getting her on the bill of the American super-festival Coachella recently alongside the likes of Beyonce, Eminem and The Weeknd.
It's personal but relatable. Songs the everyday man and woman can nod along to when they hear something they agree with. That doesn't mean it's all desolation and complaints about modern Britain, but Jorja has some pretty informed opinions on youngsters and the wider world that she airs with confidence and sincerity.
In terms of the music, there's some nice sounds in here - the zinging electro fizz that plays through the latter stages of February 3rd for instance. They lift her vocals into a dancehall stratosphere, and the thumping bass only adds to the sense of rhythm.
Her earlier single Blue Lights is a fantastic number. It's full of warnings while synths that wouldn't go amiss in some of Phil Collins' 80s-90s work float effortlessly in the background. The chorus here is powerful while she warns of the pitfalls of youth street culture.
Lifeboats (Freestyle) is one track where Jorja preaches in between her singing and again she manages to sound assured with her spoken word delivery. She's clever, too, her wit raising a few smiles.
The title track also carries a booming, deep beat to it that just sits underneath her vocal key to support but not overpower.
This approach to most of the tracks makes it strong yet soft so it always sounds assertive without ever pushing the boundaries of volume. It's a nice effect, making this both a strong, empowering record and yet one you can relax with on a Sunday afternoon.
Jorja Smith will be heading back out on a UK tour in the autumn including a date at Birmingham's O2 Academy on October 13