By Asha Burtin
“I still feel like I’m still at the beginning, even though I’ve done so much already, but it still feels like the beginning to me,” stated Jorja Smith in a recent Apple Music interview posted on Sept. 29. The 26-year-old British singer-songwriter has returned with her sophomore album, “Falling or Flying,” and while it may still feel like the beginning to her, this album presents listeners with a more mature sound in comparison to her debut 2018 album, “Lost and Found.”
The 16-track, 43-minute-long album, released late September, is a fusion of sounds. While the album is R&B, other genres influence the songs, such as the upbeat dance track “Little Things,” or the indie pop track “GO GO GO.” Smith is an artist that is known to not just stick to one strict sound, as the singer-songwriter has had previous collaborations with artists such as Drake, Burna Boy, Popcaan, Shaybo, Kendrick Lamar and more.
In the first song titled “Try Me,” Jorja Smith sings the first line, “Ask me about me again,” following up with the chorus stating,“Go ‘head try me/’Cause I’m safe behind these walls/Think you can take me through the fog where I’m no challenge/Childish (childish), childish/Yeah, you, you can try me.” Smith comes out of the gate swinging with lyrics that contrast with messages in her debut album.
However, the title track of the album “Falling or Flying” released as a single prior to the release of the album, still voices the feelings of uncertainty with love that Smith has expressed in her previous works. The first verse reads, “This ain’t what your mother told you, it’s night and day/If you’re waitin’ for a sign to come and hold me/Well, you might as well spend all your night guessin’ (Oh)/If this ain’t what your mother told you, forget what she said (Oh-ooh)/If you want this to be real, then show me you want me/Don’t play it safe with me.”
She continues this sentiment in the pre-chorus with the first two lines reading, “Won’t work if I’m numb/Won’t stop if I love.” This song is similar to past music from the artist, in terms of the themes being discussed, but the sound is different and a bit more refined in comparison to the singer-songwriter’s other projects.
As we continue through this album, we get to hear Jorja Smith shine a more positive light on her experience with love on the ninth track, “Greatest Gift” featuring Jamaican singer-songwriter Lila Iké. Smith sings, “You’re the greatest gift I found/My time with you is everything,” in the first two lines of this slower laid back song.
Listeners continue to hear Smith speak positively about love as she reminisces about a past relationship in the second to last track on the album titled “Backwards.” She sings the chorus,“How you held me, oh/I hope that you see/There’s no way you’d know/How, how you helped me,” in a soft falsetto followed by string accompaniment.
The final track, “What if my heart beats faster?” slows the album down even more, as we get to hear Smith discuss her self awareness during the collapse of a relationship. The chorus reads, “If I ever find/My heart beat faster/I could love for miles/And still not open up/I should call this off/Knowin’ that I’ll never feel how they could/Funny how life will change, but they never figure you out.”
This album is a clear example of an artist elevating the sound that made them stick out in the first place. Smith did not abandon what makes her special, and yet she was able to give listeners an album with new messages and something different to take away from it.