Jorja Smith – ‘Falling or Flying’ album review: innovative RnB makes Smith’s sophomore release sparkle


With the same sultry vocals, classic RnB stylings, and a constantly maturing sound - Jorja Smith is still making good music, there's just nothing truly great though.

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Listening to ‘Falling or Flying’Jorja Smith’s sophomore album, I wasn’t immediately sure if I liked the album for the any of its RnB innovations or simply because of those iconic sultry vocals. Through and through, this is a Jorja Smith album, matured and passed through a prism of her voice that at times elevates it past anything she’s written before. At the same time, there’s a bleeding effect to a lot of the songs that don’t do enough to differentiate them from one another. It’s also not an album that juggles as many themes as Smith’s debut, Lost & Found, but that’s not a negative, but rather a hint at what’s changed and how Smith has found a more confident stride.

‘Falling or Flying’ opens with ‘Try Me’, a perfect tone-setter for a more interpretative and modern RnB sound that tells us everything we need to know about the album. There’s more beats, a sometimes political lick of retrospective song-design, and that same great Jorja Smith sound. It’s a song that seems to imply a juggling of genres, which is let down by the album that follows, but that by no means detract for the song itself. By all means it’s a strong first track for the album that works as a smart release as the leading single as well. However, the best single and track on the album actually ends up being ‘GO GO GO’. This song sees Smith dip in a more pop-centric/alternative sound that sees her trying something different and it working incredibly well. Again it doesn’t quite gel cohesively with the album that surrounds it, falling after the softer jazzed elements of ‘Falling or flying’ and preceding the stripped back, and again, easy-listening ‘Try and fit in’. In fact, like the highs and lows words like “falling” or “flying” imply, the album is a mixed in terms of beat and tone, creating a somewhat rock rocky experience at times.

Thankfully the album is masterfully crafted in the way that there’s no skips. Every song has its merit, Smith excellently balancing lyrical accompaniment with parried back tracks or more typical sentiments with something that’s more rhythmically or musically interesting. ‘Makes sense’, another personal favourite on the album, balances itself with repetitive guitar riffs and drum beats, and Smith’s vocal control to create a bittersweet track that I hated (in a good way) for being relatively short. In fact, despite comprising of 16 tracks, Smith’s album is still relatively short, favouring sub 3-minute tracks that give the album a pacy RnB feel that never overstays its welcome or feels rushed. At times, Smith’s approach to music captures the oftentimes leisurely and alluring styles of jazz and blues, while still very much staying true to her own blend of RnB.

Trying to capture the turning point and conception of ‘Falling or Flying’ is not quite clear. Likely spring boarding off the success of ‘Be Honest’ featuring Burna Boy, the new album also features more collaborations with the likes of J Hus in the mediocre ‘Feelings’ or, the much better, ‘Greatest Gift’, where, even though it didn’t feel plausible, Lila Iké’s verse steals the absolute show. The overwhelming feeling of these collaborations though is that they introduce new dimensions and help diversify an album that occasionally struggles to make it’s songs stand separate. They certainly help break Smith’s vocals which are all too easy to get lost in and stop paying to the lyrics behind the music. While there’s quite no longs with the lyrical gut-punch of ‘Blue Lights’, Smith embraces a subtlety that marks a much more competent musician who may not have mastered her genre, but is most definitely on track.

As always with RnB, I will listen to this album to death, meaning it’s a good album. Admittedly, it’s not the peak of a continuously growing genre but Smith does plenty to ensure that ‘Falling or Flying’ does not stumble around in the darkness and become inevitably slept on. Listen to it, love it, and quickly realise why Jorja Smith’s popularity continues.

‘Falling or Flying’ is out on September 29th via FAMM, check out the video for ‘GO GO GO’ here:


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Previous News Editor (20-21), previous Editor-In-Chief (21-22), and now the Deputy Editor & Culture PR duo extravaganze, I'm just someone trying to make their way through the world of journalism... (trying being the keyword here).

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