Jorja Smith at the Invisible Wind Factory
Jorja Smith is the fresh new face of UK pop. With her angelic voice, poignant lyrics and effortless style she has already captured the attention of many of the UK’s biggest artists. At the ripe age of 20 she has already a great collection of collaborations under her belt with artists such as Kurupt FM, and Kali Uchis. Just last month Jorja debuted her new track, Let Me Down, featuring none other than the Grime King, Stormzy.
Jorja’s supporting artist, Mahalia, is a singer songwriter even younger than her headliner as she is only nineteen! Mahalia sings about love with a sultry confidence of a mature Eartha Kitt. Her biggest hit Sober, which she sang whilst dabbling with a sampler, is a blunt message to the ex she regrets drunk dialing, that pays homage to old school RnB chill out beats. The acoustic rendition of SZA’s The Weekend, in which she sang and played the guitar further exhibited her multifaceted talent.
Appearing on stage at Invisible Wind Factory, her appearance correlated with her sound: a simple cute sun dress paired with matching pink Air Force 1s, a sweet, fresh pairing emblematic of her genre and London roots. Her first UK tour has completely sold out. Whilst she has confidence in her voice her young age is much more visible in person, as she subconsciously pulls at her hemline and briskly introduces each song.
Keeping in Pop tradition many of Jorja’s songs are about romances gone awry. Unlike the dough-eyed naïve approach you’d expect from someone so young. There is a realistic and cynical judgement of these early encounters, as well as a high level of self respect (definitely more than I did on the cusp of my 20s). Teenage Fantasy aptly explains that obsessive nature of your first love and the sensible realization that it’s important to focus on yourself:
I’ve got a lot of things to do,
What if I had been a fool,
And thought I was in love with you
I need to grow and find myself before I let somebody love me,
Because at the moment I don’t know me.
Jorja also points out the beauty standards forced upon young women in another poignant track Beautiful Little Fools. This track was released on International Women’s Day in 2017 and the title draws reference from Fitzgerald’s modern classic The Great Gatsby. The importance of young girls hearing these messages from someone as effortlessly cool as Jorja cannot be overstressed and I hope her music will continue to have a positive effect on her fans.
Jorja may have appeared shy at the beginning of her set she quickly gainer her confidence. During her new song Lifeboats, a song criticizing the british government, she danced gleefully across the stage. By the end of her set she had the whole crowd dancing with her and closing on her garage style hit On My Mind, sending the crowd home on a buzzing high unique to UK Garage beats.
Whilst both Jorja and Mahalia gave great performances and their talent and stage presence is on a clear upward trajectory to greatness that some don’t gain till later in their life, I feel as Invisible Wind Factory let these musicians down. The night was so packed out that it an extremely uncomfortable experience for most of the gig as you were often craning your neck just to get a good glimpse of the acts. As well as this the sound was also badly engineered as often the murmurs of the crowd were more easily heard to me than the siren call that is Jorja’s phenomenal voice. To the point where it felt disrespectful that when she announced her song Goodbyes, a personal song of her loss of a friend, it seemed disrespectful that this was not heard as prominently as it should have been. The low volume on the mic meant the crowd was at points disconnected and distracted from the performance. Invisible Wind Factory perhaps should not be a venue for such intimate soulful musicians. Or if they plan to put gigs on like this in the feature they should cut the amount of tickets down and amp up the volume.
Jorja Smith’s first tour has been a complete success as she has sold out across the country before even releasing her debut album. Most often likened to RnB titan Lauryn Hill, Jorja’s soon promised debut album will surely be a great hit with listeners, and a fresh soulful rejuvenation of the pop genre.