It’s endearing to us islanders that British pop stars on the world stage are known more for their voices than their decadent videos. Amy gave us Adele. When Adele retires the world will be looking to Jorja Smith, a Walsall-born twenty-year-old who has already been exported around the globe as a megastar-in- waiting on Drake and Kendrick features.
Her debut album Lost & Found is so utterly flooring vocally, on that merit alone you could argue she deserves the early acclaim. As the eponymous opener whirs into life like Lauryn Hill in Blade Runner, Jorja’s reflexive R&B habits colour the record, with her harmonies lifting songs like ‘Teenage Fantasy’ into resplendent displays of her inner superstar. The record consistently weaves its futurist magic as her unforgettable melodies play off the cutting-edge production. In ‘The One’ she displays an Adele-style ear for hooks, but sometimes, like on ‘Tomorrow’, her classical training shines through, presenting us with her amazing versatility.
Where lies the problem then? Her lyrics are often either about love or self-realisation. Even while the album gets better musically with every listen, the inward-looking nature of the songs often means that lyrically they can blur into one. The incredible ‘Blue Lights’ is the only real attempt to harness the empathic power of storytelling. If Jorja makes her story our story too, it won’t be an exercise in mis-education, she’ll be unstoppable.