Rating: 6.0 // 10
Genres: Neo-Soul, R&B
Released: 14/05/21, FAMM
Favourite Track: Addicted
If you liked this, you’ll like: Lost & Found (2018) // Jorja Smith, Not Your Muse (2021) // Celeste
Jorja Smith’s sophomore EP entertains but fails to reach the same levels as her debut LP, resulting in a record that is pleasant but lacking in impact.
Three years on from her first LP, Lost & Found, Jorja Smith has grown to be one of the biggest names and faces of the UK’s growing Neo-Soul and R&B scene. Despite the relatively lengthy gap in between projects, Smith has released a smattering of singles – none of which ended up on this new project.
With the songs released pooling from a variety of genres and influences, it was hard to pinpoint exactly which sonic direction Smith would go for on her new project. Ultimately, it seems that she has chosen to play it safe and remain in the soft ballads akin to her debut. Whilst the songs certainly cannot be called poor by any stretch of the imagination, they do lack any thing special, with the tracklisting starting with a few pre-released singles, before devolving into a pool of similarity.
It’s not to say the EP doesn’t start strong with Addicted, which would not be out of place on her debut in terms of quality. It’s also the boldest in terms of a differing soundscape, moving away from acoustic guitar-based sounds, incorporating a less dense mix and really giving everything space to shine. It builds a fantastic mood for the track. At no point can you knock Smith’s vocals, and they really shine on the opening song. Starting off soft and dainty, the power that seeps into it during the chorus really highlights the emotion. The contrast to when she slips back into a softer delivery during the verses really create a strong sense of ebbing and flowing energy.
However, the quality is not really matched for the rest of the tracklisting, as slowly we move away from the singles and into the deeper cuts. Gone is a lot more straight forward, but lacks any moments of intrigue, whilst Bussdown heavily relies on its feature for any interest.
At this point the tracks start to merge and starts to fly by – the only noticeable moment of Time is the interlude section at the end of the track, whilst Home continues the reliance on simple acoustic guitars as we enter another forgettable effort. Burn is more in line with Lost & Found, but the vocals are the weakest displayed on this project. Note that this does not mean poor, as Smith’s vocals are the saving grace throughout the project, but they are so one note and monotone throughout the chorus and verses. This hampers a track that with a bit of gravitas could have stood out amongst a rather mediocre back end of the EP. Digging is arguably the most notable track out of the final leg of the project, with a far more interesting instrumental thanks to the more dominant drums.
In the end, this feels too bloated for an EP, yet too lacking to be a full length LP. In truths it does end up feeling like a bunch of throwaways handed over to her fanbase to tide them over until a full project, which is ironic, considering her debut LP was assembled from previously recorded songs and strung together at random. The results, however, are in strict contract to each other, and whilst this certainly won’t have a negative impact on Smith’s image or career, leaves expectations still unfulfilled.