Jorja Smith’s Soaring ‘Falling Or Flying’ Album Finds Value In The Unknown

The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.

Falling Or Flying, the title of Jorja Smith’s second album, somewhat recalls a record from her 2021 EP Be Right Back. “Burn” speaks of the gradual but damaging progression of burnout that any of us can experience. Jorja sings with the tenderness of a candle’s flame and with the urgency of one who sees that the candle’s wax is moments away from running out, which would ultimately kill the adored flame. “You let yourself burn, you burn yourself out,” she sings. “There she goes, she is fallin’ down.” Here, the concept of “falling” is attached to exhaustion and deprivation, but Falling Or Flying shines a more optimistic light on it.

Jorja Smith excels on her long-awaited sophomore album by taking the split second between “falling” and “flying,” and making an entire world of it. It’s the extremely brief moment where the unknown is about to become known. There’s a serene beauty behind this ignorance that allows Jorja to take things in strides regardless of if she crashes to the ground or soars through the sky. “Little Things” is a perfect example of this as Jorja dances to joyful keys and a funky bass all while proposing a nighttime getaway to a new love interest. She’s yet to receive a “yes” or “no,” but the wait for it is far from grueling as she will just dance the night away in the meantime.

This concept of “falling or flying” is far more accepting of the world than its combative cousin “fight or flight.” Yet, as an artist who is five years and an EP removed from her debut album Lost & Found, Jorja honed in on this combative spirit as there is plenty to prove on Falling Or Flying. The album begins with “Try Me,” a track steered by daring drums that amplify Jorja’s challenge to critics to be open to her and correctly define her changed self. “She Feels” is on a determined mission to leave places where she’s mistreated and head to where she’s valued. “Go Go Go” sticks to her guns as a woman in favor of one-night intimacy over a longtime relationship. Though outsiders will lay their claim on whether she will fall or fly as a result of this album, Jorja’s fight proves at the very least that she makes it through the battle, scarred or not, if proves to be tougher than expected. At best, the singer has everything needed to win her fight by a great margin.

It’s hard to not complete a listen of Falling Or Flying and not reach the conclusion that Jorja absolutely soared above the noise through its 16 songs. Some of the singer’s best songs live on the album. “Falling Or Flying” starts as a declaration of what love can and can’t be over scantly funky production before exploding into a poppy and dazzling showcase of vulnerability where she confesses that the end result of this love is the least of her worries. The album’s closer, “What If My Heart Beats Faster?” is the brutal realization that her current relationship is not the perfect fit and the attempt to break free from what doesn’t serve her. Lastly, in what is the album’s best song, “Greatest Gift” with Lila Iké offers the genuine appreciation to a lover who couldn’t any more perfect for her along with the commitment to be everything and more for them as they are that for her. From start to finish on Falling Or Flying, Jorja Smith makes love feel like the greatest superpower and something you’re lucky to have work in your favor while it’s also capable of causing irreversible damage if it’s not on your side.

Jorja Smith found her wings on Falling Or Flying, and with them, she flies with captivating grace more times than not through the 16 songs on her second album. In comparison to her debut, Falling Or Flying feels a bit lighter as its overall construction – which wasn’t too bad – was stripped down to make it easier for the singer to stand out in her airborne moments. The best thing about this album is that we see Jorja arrive at the conclusion everything will be okay and she is doing just fine. The appreciation of the spectacle split-second moment that is the unknown between falling or flying is worth whatever ending is destined for her. Whether she falls or flies through love or falls or flies in her career, all that matters to Jorja Smith is the moment she’s off her feet and ensuring that it’s not the last time she experiences it.

Falling Or Flying is out now via FAMM. Find out more information here.