Be Right Back by Jorja Smith album review by Adam Fink for Northern Transmissions

The Orchard

8

Jorja Smith

Be Right Back

There are so many songs by your favourite artists that never see the light of day. Usually when someone is in the twilight of their career, they compile a bunch of these tracks ‘from the vault’ and coast on past glories. Often these songs are just stepping stones between records. Never fully realized ideas that help blossom new concepts that the artist embraces on a proper release. In 2018 the world was treated to Jorja Smith’s debut album Lost & Found and the young UK singer/songwriter found herself on an amazingly fast upward career trajectory.

In the interim, besides releasing the singles “By Any Means” and “Come Over” with Jamaican singer Popcann, Smith has been relatively quiet. Now, as she finishes her sophomore album, Smith has decided to release the eight song EP Be Right Back. The record is meant to act as a sort of “waiting room” for fans and as Smith describes it, “This isn’t an album and these songs wouldn’t have made it. If I needed to make these songs, then someone needs to hear them too.” Well, it is certainly good that she decided to release them because Be Right Back is a wonderfully immersive affair, detailing Smith’s growth as a songwriter and singer and it should definitely leave listeners satiated for now but very excited for the next album.

Smith’s voice is the true star of the album. Right off the top she makes her presence known on the absolutely charming ear worm “Addicted”. Chorus drench guitar calmly leads up to a banger of a chorus where Smith sings,”The hardest thing/You are not addicted to me/I’m the only thing you should need/You should be addicted to me” and it’s impossible not to be. Smith experiments with genres and styles all over Be Right Back. “Gone” is a soothing bit of soul, perfect for a late night lamenting the loss of love. “Home” is fully carried by Smith’s amazing voice. With just a simple guitar backing her and some perfectly placed harmonies, it is a total stunner. This leads right into “Burn” which is so wonderfully warm. The song buoyed by a bubbly bass line and some simple guitar strumming is another example that less is more for Smith. Her voice is the glue that holds these tracks together and they are made greater because of it.

Be Right Back may be a placeholder for Smith but we should be grateful that she deemed it necessary to share now instead of having it come out later in her career. It’s an interesting look at the work she has been doing behind the scenes as she preps her sophomore record but it is also a really accomplished collection of songs. It’s warm, soothing and quite beautiful and if this is the material that didn’t make the cut for a ‘proper release’ then we are really in for a treat when she comes right back.