Fans have been waiting for new music from singer-songwriter Jorja Alice Smith, popularly known as Jorja Smith, since her debut album “Lost & Found,” released in June of 2018. She was discovered in 2012 by record producer Guy Moot not long after posting a cover of Labrinth’s “Earthquake” to YouTube.
Smith quickly gained traction in the industry after signing with Sony in 2016 and releasing two EPs by 2017. She was best known for her singles “On My Mind” and “Blue Lights,” the latter of which earned an impressive amount of attention seeing as it got nearly half a million streams in less than a month, despite it being a debut and the fact that she was only 19 when she wrote the song. Since then, she has accumulated various awards and nominations under her belt and is recognized as one of the United Kingdom’s best female artists.
This time around, Smith wanted to take a different route for her newest project “Falling or Flying,” released on Sept. 29, 2023. Though she sticks with her R&B and Soul sound, you can hear remnants of some of the UK Funk and Rock she has dabbled with. This is also the first project of Smith’s where she did not necessarily pick back up on old songs from the vault. Every track this time around was made from scratch and was made just for “Falling or Flying.”
This album takes you on a journey. Tracks one to three “Try Me,” “She Feels,” and “Little Things” all start off super upbeat and give you a sense of the flying aspect of the title. She seems certain of who she is and what she wants. No matter how hard people try, she will never change and neither will her mind.
When we get to the title track, that is when the mood shifts and we the audience get the full significance of the album name. To Smith, falling or flying means to be in a state of limbo. You do not know if you are flying or falling. You could be doing either and not know the difference. It represents her current relationship with music and the industry as a whole. Because she started so young and was happy with how fast-paced everything was and just overall grateful for the opportunities, it was not until recently that she started to feel overwhelmed by all that came with fame. Her career started off on a high note when she just felt uplifted and like she was flying, until time passed and she was no longer certain she was flying, rather falling and just waiting to hit the ground.
We then hear tracks like “GO GO GO” and “Try and Fit In” where Smith portrays being indifferent, and like she could not care less about anyone has to say who does not know the real her. In “GO GO GO” she focuses on not meeting peoples’ expectations and letting them down when they expected too much from her in the first place.
And now, everyone feels a certain way about it all, and she does not feel like she cares anymore. With “Try and Fit In” we get a glimpse of what she has given up over the years so that she can have the career we know of today. Now even though she has what she thought she always wanted, that still doesn’t make her problems and her struggles go away. Trying to fit in never will.
Once you get to the sixteenth and final song “What if My Heart Beats Faster?” you can hear the pessimism and distrust, with not only herself but with some of those around her, that Smith has been conveying throughout the album. In the first verse, she expresses saying sorry to someone who has not yet accepted her apology and that they should not take what she says for granted. In that same verse she starts to show the indifference she felt earlier on, and thinks that whether or not this someone believes her, it does not matter because she just does not care.
When we dive into the chorus we learn about her hesitation to open up, even if her heart beats faster. The lines “I should call this off knowing that I’ll never feel how they could.” and “Funny how life will change, but they will never figure you out.” indicate that she fears giving her heart to someone because she cannot trust them, or even herself, not to break it due to how intricate people are.
According to Official Charts Company, as of Oct. 5, “Falling or Flying” is charting at number three for the UK’s top 100 biggest albums of the week, and many think this is only the beginning of what is to come of this new Jorja.