Clinching the Critics’ Choice BRIT Award isn’t ever a guarantee of sustained success or even a well-received debut, as a quick perusal of the list of previous winners will attest. Jorja Smith, you suspect, needed neither the affirmation of her ability or any more of a pedestal than she already had, given that she’s already got high-profile collaborations with Drake and Kendrick Lamar under her belt.
‘Lost & Found’ would surely have emerged sounding this assured and fully-formed regardless of the Midlander’s extracurricular successes since she began working on it two years ago; there’s a diversity of stylistic approach and yet a singularity of vision that few artists are able to combine so early on. The crackle of a vinyl record can be heard at points throughout the album, as if to signpost the fact that Jorja’s deepest influences are of a different era - think Lauryn Hill on ‘Teenage Fantasy’, or D’Angelo on the minimalist title track.
Elsewhere, Amy Winehouse’s earlier work is recalled on the acoustically-driven ‘Goodbyes’, but it’s the likes of ‘Blue Lights’ - already a hit single - or ‘February 3rd’ that offer the strongest indications of her appeal to the present titans of hip hop; they’re downtempo, late-night affairs that owe more to Massive Attack or Portishead than past R&B superstars. There’s the occasional misfire - she doesn’t pull off the falsetto that she aims for on ‘Tomorrow’, for instance - but for the most part, Jorja Smith’s only real concern once ‘Lost & Found’ is out is how she’s going to top it.