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Photo: Liz Johnson Artur
Photo: Liz Johnson Artur

Jorja Smith Takes To The Stars on falling or flying

The R&B enchantress proves less is more in order to soar on this long-awaited (and totally worth the wait) sophomore offering.

by Ben Boddez

Save for a subdued EP in 2021, UK soul singer Jorja Smith has mostly been shying away from the public eye ever since a Drake co-sign placed her on a thousand “one to watch” lists at the age of 21. That’s by design – now finally getting to her sophomore studio album five years later, Smith has returned to the interview circuit talking about how much being thrust into the spotlight, plucked out of relative obscurity by one of the planet’s biggest artists, made her uncomfortable.

Relocating back to her hometown of Walsall, England and surrounding herself with local collaborators for falling or flying, a project that discusses her brush with the high life and subsequent journey to discover what she really wanted, Smith is clearly not playing into people’s expectations anymore. With tracks that sound less like chasing hits and more like streams of consciousness, Smith’s smoky yet sharp vocal timbre continues to cut through a mix that could only have come from home: the UK’s cultures of garage, drum ‘n’ bass and Afrobeats now blend together and colour her soulful soundscapes.

With topics that find her addressing her changing mind state, brushes with the high life that left her feeling out of place, and calling out the desire to chase money as a way to run away from one’s real problems, Smith sounds a lot more at home, now utilizing the intimacy that endeared her to many in a more emotionally potent way.