New artist of the week: Jorja Smith
What: Drake and Stormzy collaborator in the spotlight
Why: The 21-year-old Walsall R&B singer Jorja Smith has carved quite a career for herself in two short years. Having already featured on tracks from heavyweights like Stormzy, Drake and upcoming global artists Khalid and Kali Uchis, the spotlight is returning to Smith's own solo career with the release of her debut long-player Lost & Found next week.
The vocals have been likened to Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill and Rihanna; soulful and smokey, jazzy and juiced with pulp of modern pop. Musically, the midlands singer is as comfortable around a lounge piano as she is with a sick beat ripe for auto-tune (not that she would ever need it).
Lost & Found will feature her breakthrough tune Blue Lights, a song that interpolates Dizzee Rascal's 2007 song Sirens with glazed and cold synth chords to Smith calming young black men not to run in the face of the police. "There's no need to run / If you've done nothing wrong / Blue lights should just pass you by."
Smith has the propensity to suspend the song's production with her own voice. On a recent feature on Kendrick Lamar's Black Panther soundtrack, a distorted guitar lurks in the background and the singer is confrontational but resigned to losing freedom, much like Lamar, who has made his name for his ability to weave a common yet contrasting thread through complex truths.
Smith is equally comfortable on UK garage as she is on Canadian megastar albums but it’s her own work that is ready for the big time.
You have to hear this... James Blake – Don’t Miss It
Having cropped up on an Andre 3000 song this month and the Black Panther soundtrack earlier this year, James Blake returns with a solo track that plays to the core of his strengths. The track, a collaboration with Mount Kimbie's Dominic Maker, is a piano ballad torch song with Blake's trademark electronic pitched-up production."When you get to hang out with your favourite person every day / when the dull pain goes away /don't miss it," he suggests.
You have to hear this... Mutual Benefit – Storm Cellar Heart
Over a series of vinyl records and digital long-players the American songwriter Jordan Lee has quietly and confidently put out consistently edifying work of indie folk with wistful country and orchestral bent. With his fourth official record Thunder Follows The Light coming later this year, the quiet majesty of Storm Cellar Heart lodges itself in a space once occupied by Sufjan Stevens's early work.