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Jorja Smith - Be Right Back (Album Review)

Tuesday, 01 June 2021 Written by Milly McMahon

Jorja Smith’s voice moves with an exquisite sense of grace. On her latest project, the not-quite-LP ‘Be Right Back’, there is a melancholic tide that carries her words and emotions from interludes to choruses. This latest collection of intimate narratives tells of vulnerabilities, regrets and desires. 

These eight atmospheric songs—nominally offcuts serving as a bridge to the forthcoming follow up to 2018’s ‘Lost & Found’—offer insight into the 23-year-old’s poetic thoughts. Ruminating on her life and values, Smith’s slow-moving, bluesy aesthetic speaks to an authenticity that feels like it’s best viewed in soft-focus, or as a series of exchanges shared exclusively between Jorja and her listeners.

Weekend is a stunning moment, where a mournful violin parallels Smith’s tones as she speaks about the pitfalls of materialism and love.

Her capacity to write heartbreakingly honest lyrics that cut soul-deep is becoming increasingly profound, and her seemingly effortless approach to marrying music and words is equally spellbinding here. 

But it’s the single Bussdown, a collaboration with Shaybo, that stands out as the project’s biggest achievement. Moving with an easy rhythm, channelling a lounge vibe, Nigerian born-Lewisham raised MC Shaybo pairs with Jorja to speak with conviction and prowess about female empowerment, ther points punctuated by a metaphor of an independent and financially successful woman.

A perfect evocation of the liminal space between LPs, ‘Be Right Back’ offers Smith thought-provoking space to breathe and reflect. A talented artist who is becoming more and more comfortable taking risks with her music, here she finds room to quietly explore her most understated self.

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