Album Review: 'falling or flying' by Jorja Smith

One of our writers reviews Jorja Smith's new album...

Bertie Kirkwood
6th November 2023
Image Credit: Instagram @jorjasmith_
Jorja Smith is simply operating in a league of her own when it comes to British RnB music. Such is her chart ubiquity it’s hard to believe that falling or flying is only her second album following her 2018 debut, but one whose finest moments are sure to linger in the charts for many weeks to come. 

There’s little in the 44-minute runtime to suggest anything like a sophomore slump, either: Smith is a quietly confident presence throughout, preferring to let her brooding vocals speak for themselves rather than go for the sort of extravagant vocal acrobatics that lesser artists might rely on. In fact, this album is a masterclass in restraint, full of strikingly minimalist ideas pulled together by the simplest of monochrome-hued brushstrokes. Take evocative opener Try Me for example, which sees Smith lament that “nothing is ever enough” over earthy drums and an ominous triangle that evokes a countdown to some terrible, preordained event. The musical ingredients are few, but every element contributes to an inescapable sense of unease, right down to the sound of a gun cocking moments before the chorus.

Image credit: Instagram @jorjasmith_

Even more impressive is Little Things, a deserved hit that will achieve the feat of igniting nightclub dancefloors up and down the country with little more than a hooky bassline and a couple of jagged, jazzy piano chords. The title track is the pick of the bunch, though, its wash of 80s-tinged synths finding a perfect marriage with Smith’s dovetailing harmonies. Only J Hus collaboration Feelings stands out as an unusually bland and superficial lusty love song. Nonetheless, the rest of this moody, subtle record has plenty of depth to be mined on repeat listens. Let’s just hope Smith won’t keep us waiting another six years until the next one.

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