When Jorja Smith released her first track, “Blue Lights,” on Soundcloud, her exceptional talent was apparent. The track showcased her aptitude for storytelling and conveying a high level of emotion with her voice and inflection. Many in the music industry, including Drake, instantly fell in love with her voice and her soothing tone. That was in 2016.
Smith didn’t necessarily strike while the iron was hot, because that was not her style. She released an EP, Project 11, later in 2016, giving her fans bits and pieces for them to gnaw on while awaiting her album. Her undeniable talent attracted fans and other artists alike, as she drew the attention of Drake, featuring twice on his album More Life. She stood out on the lackluster “playlist,” providing a soulful spark and once again leaving her mark in the industry. Her appearances on the Drake project wowed the mainstream listeners and left a lot of us clamoring for more. She continued to provide us with enough to tie us over until she would eventually release her debut album. Her song on the Black Panther Album, “I Am,” was a standout track that put her in the spotlight on the soundtrack of one of the most popular movies in recent history. “On My Mind,” a collaboration with Preditah, a electronic producer from Birmingham, England, was one of the best songs of 2017.
Lost & Found came out on June 8, 2018.
The release of her debut album somehow exceeded the lofty expectations that were already held. Everyone knew that Smith was a once in a generation talent. But on Lost & Found, she was able to truly come into her own, using her voice to create an amazing blend of R&B and soul. To me, she is reminiscent of a British Alicia Keys, soothing listener’s eardrums with a sweet, melodic voice.
The titular opening track begins with a muted beat that allows her croon powerfully freely. The low tempo production serves Smith’s talent perfectly, causing the listener to focus heavily on the main star, her voice. We knew this to be true. Jorja Smith’s main superpower is her powerhouse vocals. “Blue Lights” is the perfect example, as she carries the track via both singing and rapping. It is not easy to make both sound perfect, but she pulled off the transition between the two seamlessly.
The special aspect about this album is that it is very apparent that it is very Jorja. What I mean by this is that she was committed to making this album in a way that fits perfectly to her voice. Gone was the pop, dancehall, and electronic centered vibes of More Life and “On My Mind.” On Lost & Found, Smith takes the time to carve out a distinct niche for herself that is a departure from the stuff that she featured on. It was more like her EPs, more personalized and suited for her style. She was not fitting into another wave.
Smith’s songwriting ability was also on display on her debut album, adding another skill to her repertoire. Each song was written by her, with few other contributors, which is again a testament to her dedication to make this album her own. On “Blue Lights,” she delves into socially conscious storytelling on the topic of young black people and racial profiling by the police. With “The One,” she takes on the struggles and conflict between wanting someone to share love with and not being dependent on another person. It is a realistic take on someone not wanting to open themselves up too much in fear of getting hurt. Her writing chops were showcased, giving listeners another reason to get behind her.
Even though she appeared first back in 2016, this album feels like an arrival. It is a true reflection of her artistry, her own sound and skill. Jorja Smith is a special talent. Lost & Found truly showcased that. She is carving out her own rare and unique place in music.
Check out her debut album below.