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Be Right Back — Album Review

by Josh Herring about a month ago in album reviews

Jorja Smith delivers smooth tunes

Be Right Back album cover

From the very beginning, Jorja Smith grabs the listener by the ears and demands a thoughtful approach in Be Right Back. This album is both melancholy and soulful in a willful approach to love. Travesty seems to carry in the artist’s voice and reverberates in your soul, almost to the point of poignancy. This short album has a certain sound that we don’t necessarily see in American music; as so, I can appreciate the nuance in the dialect and delivery in each song. There is an earthy, jazzy, funky element that is very subtle yet complements the artist so well.

The album opens with the addicting “Addicted” which is a slower, more vulnerable song. It’s my favorite on the album by far, as the chorus is one of the best R&B hooks I’ve heard in a while. The song speaks on an intoxicating relationship where Smith’s potential lover isn’t necessarily all in on the relationship as she is. They aren’t addicted to her, there’s no healthy obsession, there’s no love. As a result, this relationship, simply, cannot work. Despite her pleading, Smith likely leaves empty-handed. Thus begins the heartbreak, a gut-wrenching realization of the absence of love.

While none of the remaining songs stand out as much, this doesn’t mean the quality disappears. After several listens, this album is a very cohesive project that captures several different genres and consistent themes with the beautiful vocal abilities from the artist.

The second song, “Gone”, is a subtle, smooth song about loss. This theme could be applied to several different angles, but according to Smith in an interview with Zane Lowe, the song is “[…] a story of someone who left in a car accident.” However, it’s important to note that the beauty of perspective and music in general, it’s in the eye of the beholder. The song could just as easily signify losing a lover and the regret that comes with it.

“Bussdown” is a bit more lighthearted song with a looser, more kinetic style that uses a Caribbean flow and drums with a feature from Shaybo. The song highlights some of the higher end fashions of life including diamonds and cars with blackout tint so other can’t witness greatness for free. Ultimately, the price of fame and fortune comes at a price. Usually this takes the form of losing friends or family. The song is more of a flaunt than anything and questions if you are really ready for that lifestyle. It has an eclectic yet calming aesthetic to it, so it is definitely worth a listen.

“Time” is a short, almost interlude type of song that consist of one verse, a chorus, and a conversational outro. This song heavily focuses on Smith’s singing ability as it is only backed by a simple beat and guitar strum. As far as content matter, the song is oppositional in its approach, almost as if the artist is moving on. She is looking more to hookup and take the relationship slow rather than rushing headfirst into commitment — she wants to take the time to gauge the relationship at her pace. The end of the chorus really captures the strength of her voice as she belts the last few words.

The second half of the album isn’t as dynamic as the first four songs, but are still worth listening to, in order to create a holistic experience.

“Home” is much more lowkey and Jorja doesn’t fully showcase the vocal range yet the chorus is so melodic that I can’t get enough. This song is more of a pep talk or introspection more than anything. Smith is almost ashamed boring headstrong into her ambitions and is scared that she’ll end up being sorry for following the ambitions so strongly. She is contemplating how she can continue to live her life without apology despite all that is happened.

“Burn” is probably my least favorite song of the bunch. She seems to burn out here. It is a tad off beat and has a weird house/dancehall/jazz combo that doesn’t necessarily match the melancholy vocals she is providing. It’s the kind of performance that you might see at a local coffeeshop. It is partially saved by the strong vocals towards the end of the song, but this one is kinda a throwaway.

The next song is a much more pop/R&B type of song that benefits an artist like Smith. It plays into the wheelhouse of a minimal beat and a focus on creating ethereal experience with strong vocals, memorable choruses, and melancholy themes. The song traverses the imposing will of intrusive thoughts. No matter how far she goes or how much she tries to get catharsis by talking about it, they are still always there. She is trying to find a way to live with these thoughts and their consequences as she progresses with life. This leads us to the outro.

“Weekend” has a sick beat and the signature sound from Smith. This song looks to be an ode to someone who is stuck in limbo about their relationship with Smith. She urges for them to wait and admits to the fault that she believed they would continue to come back. As so, she continues to tell herself to move on, save her money, it’s not only for the weekend. This alludes the fact that the best is invested in her future rather than the instant gratification. She found love young but in a “trapped world”, one that can no longer be accessed and seemed impossible to leave.

Overall, Jorja Smith creates a great R&B performance with songs that should be captivating the airways. This is prefect for those nights you are sad, experiencing a breakup, or just enjoy being alone. There’s something for everyone in this album, happy or sad.

Originally posted in Modern Music Analysis

album reviews

Josh Herring

Content Writer | Owner of Modern Music Analysis music publication

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