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Jorja Smith, ‘Falling or Flying review’: soul star spreads wings and takes a bold leap

On her second album, the British soul star delivers some of the best songs of her career as she diversifies her sound and collaborates with some of British music's leading lights.

4.0 rating

By Nick Reilly

Jorja Smith (Picture: Ivor Alice)

When Jorja Smith released her debut album  Lost & Found in 2018, it was near universally accepted that hers was a voice that could define British soul for the next decade.

Break-up ballads and slow jams like ‘Blue Lights’ and ‘Lost & Found’ showed off her raw, emotionally charged talent, but there was still the nagging sense that Smith’s reliance on these sounds risked typifying her music and, by extension, the whole essence of her artistry.

It’s welcome news, then, that second album Falling or Flying sees Smith take the handbrake off her low-tempo sounds and speed off into a new place entirely. The bass drums and bone-rattling percussion on early single ‘Try Me’ add a dramatic dimension to Smith’s work, letting her peerless vocal talent shine.

Elsewhere, the club-primed beat of ‘Little Things’ goes far in proving why it’s already become a remix smash in the hands of Jungle supremo Nia Archives. There is also a powerful collab with J Hus on ‘Feelings’, a sultry Afrobeats-primed banger that marks their second collab of 2023.

Still, there’s plenty for old-school fans too. ‘Broken Is the Man’, a haunting ballad marked by Smith’s stirring vocals, is one of the best tracks she’s ever done, while ‘Backwards’ is an affirming break-up anthem in its own restrained way. All considered, Falling or Flying sees Smith doing everything in her power to continue on that path to becoming a generational voice.