Friday 16 August
At 25-years-old, British singer-songwriter Jorja Smith has already spent close to a decade soaring in the music world, with her gorgeous voice and searing pen. From Walsall, the West Midlands, Smith has collaborated with an astonishing roster of international stars like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Stormzy, Burna Boy, Kali Uchis, Popcaan; in 2018, she was the first independent artist to win the coveted BRITs Critics Choice Award; that same year, Lost & Found, her debut album, was released to rave reviews and a Mercury Prize-nomination. She also won a BRIT Award for Best British Female Artist in 2019, and was nominated that same year for the Grammy for Best New Artist.
Beneath the surface of her successes, though, as she became a known entity in the public eye, Jorja Smith was growing overwhelmed with it all. And so it is that she arrived at the title for her long-awaited second full-length: Falling or Flying, a record that serves as a snapshot of a young woman growing up, confidently stepping into her light in the face of the whirring cogs of worry, and making music entirely on her own terms. Working with Walsall production duo, her old friends DAMEDAME*, it’s a sonically vast record – sometimes sleek and shiny R&B, sometimes vibey and heated UK funky, elsewhere intense and raw alternative. Lyrically, she delves into relationships – friendships, romances, the press, the music industry; but mainly, the one she has with herself.
“I’ve gotten better at trusting myself, not doubting myself as much, and not being so affected and worried by other peoples’ opinions,” she explains with a smile, “So much of the time I think I’ve written a song about someone, and then realise I’m actually talking about myself. Sometimes these songs are just me being there for myself.” On Falling or Flying, then, Jorja Smith is reminding herself (and us), that whether things are up or down, she’s very much in control. In fact, as she grows and holds herself, she’s fully thriving.