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Lost & Found — ‘thoughtful and authentic’

Lost & Found — ‘thoughtful and authentic’

June 10
00:20 2018

To be a success-in-the-making prompts speculation about who is doing the making and to what end. Jorja Smith won this year’s Critics’ Choice prize at the Brit Awards, a music industry launch pad for new talent whose previous winners include Adele and Sam Smith. She has also appeared as guest singer on tracks by Drake, Stormzy and Kendrick Lamar, who picked her as the sole British voice on his Black Panther film soundtrack.

Here is rocket fuel to inspire envy in other young singers. But it also carries pressures. Last year’s Brits Critics’ Choice winner, Rag’n’Bone Man, released 2017’s second-bestselling album in the UK, behind Ed Sheeran. Those are the sort of sales figures Smith is supposed to aspire to now. For a 20-year-old singer releasing her first album, it is a highly demanding definition of success, at once narrowly construed and stratospherically high.

Lost & Found opens with an old-fashioned hip-hop soul beat that the Walsall-raised Smith interrupts with a comment directed to a colleague in the recording studio: “Yeah, I like that, it sounds cool.” It advertises Smith’s agency over her music, perhaps a little too obviously. But the album backs her up.

Released independently, it is a composed piece of work. The opening songs cast the vocalist as an old head on young shoulders, singing about teenage crushes over classic neo-soul. Her voice has a warm slur, moving around notes in a seemingly easy fashion, a striking display of musicality.

“The One” feints at being a big orchestral tear-jerker but switches direction with a Sade-esque Latin beat, albeit of a slightly stiff-limbed variety. “Blue Lights” interpolates Dizzee Rascal’s song “Sirens” into a soulful lament about racial profiling by the police. Only at the end of the album does Smith move into mainstream ballad mode, although neither the arrangements nor the singing are overdone. The album comes across as thoughtful and authentic, the true measure of its success.


Lost & Found’ is released by FAMM

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