UK singer Jorja Smith comes across almost shy in the speaking portions of her recent NPR Tiny Desk Concert performance. From the sensuous strength of her voice and the prodigious wisdom of her songwriting, it’d be easy to forget that she’s only 21 years old, but when she speaks, it’s clear that she’s still getting used to the trappings of stardom that have come along since she blessed Drake’s More Life with her honeyed vocals to implore him to “get your sh*t together.”
However, there’s nothing shy about her paradoxically forceful stage presence when she starts singing and rapping, only the kind of practiced confidence that lights up a room — whether that room is a packed tent at Coachella or a cleared-out workspace in a media office for 50 or so workers at NPR. Jorja’s band, made up of four members, brings an entirely different, but no less engrossing appeal to their reworks of her Lost & Found standouts “Teenage Fantasy,” “Blue Lights,” and “On My Mind,” which receive mellow interpretation that accentuates her vocals, while adapting to the more intimate setting.
While Smith’s minimalist method sounds great on her debut album, it’s even more perfect for NPR’s series, turning in one of the more engaging performances of its ten-year run.
Lost & Found is out now via FAMMM.