03. The Showstopper – Jorja Smith (2.0)
WORDS AND PHOTOGRAPHY – MEGAN SCHILLER
Last Thursday I was lucky enough to get tickets through Niji Magazine, to Jorja Smiths’ sold out show at Brixton Electric. A week later and all the reviews have been outstanding, and mine is no different.
What was immediately noticeable was the huge variation of people in the crowd. It ranged from young excitable teens, some who queued for five hours to make sure they secured a front row spot, right through to the 40-somethings. The teens were the real die-hard fans, and she has amassed quite the following even prior to her collaboration with Canadian rapper, Drake.
The show opened with visuals featuring Smith as a child in the West Midlands progressing to reveal her 20yr old self living in London. She has an incredible way of expressing her feelings about social and personal issues, and her emotiveness when singing was something that clearly resonated through the audience.
“Blue Lights”, a song sampling Dizzee Rascal’s “Sirens” is particularly relevant with reports of police brutality becoming ever more present in the media. Alongside the injustice of how young black males are treated within the justice system, Smith also has a lot to say when it comes to us girls. “Beautiful Little Fools” questions the female role in society, whilst also encouraging empowerment as she enables us to look together at today’s gender disparities.
With a winning combination of her loveable nature, songs with powerful messages and a voice to match, Smith’s success is inevitable. It does however seem she lacks some confidence when it comes to her stage presence.
The band that stood behind her had a jazzy, soul vibe that isn’t as detectable in her recorded tracks. This could have stemmed from both Smith’s love of Amy Winehouse and her dad’s experience in a local neo-soul band, but either way it worked, and it lifted her music to a higher, more soulful level.
With a large amount of her set consisting of highly anticipated new and yet-to-be-released music, Jorja Smith is well on her way to becoming an incredibly influential female vocalist who is sure to make an impact on the industry with her mellow style.
02. The Romantic – Rex Orange County
I’d been introduced to Rex Orange County’s music through Instagram about a month ago and since then there has not been a single day I haven’t listened to at least one of his songs. I was desperate to see the guy live, and it was last Thursday that my best friend and I were lucky enough to find tickets to his sell-out show. Held at the Peckham Liberal Club, it was like going to the cutest, most romantic school disco I’ve ever been to.
Rex Orange County (Alex O’Connor) opened the night singing Apricot Princess, the name of his first song on his second album under the same name. Girls if a guy ever writes you a song, let alone an album like this, just propose alright? This first song set the tone for a faultless night. The guys a fucking genius and sometimes his voice and those lyrics make you want to cry a little bit but that’s okay.
He also performed at a venue serving £3.50 pints, what more could you bloody want?
The first album ‘bcos u will never b free’ is full of heartbreak and unrequited love amongst other things , and I was taken by surprise at the honesty in the lyrics. It’s refreshing and I find myself really listening and understanding what he’s saying. His second album, ‘Apricot Princess’ talks less of heartbreak and this is something I’m presuming we can thank his girlfriend for. Again he’s unapologetic in everything he says and performs in the same way, with a slight awkwardness sometimes which makes him even more likeable.
There was one moment however which stole the entire show (sorry Rex, pal) and this was when his girlfriend made an appearance for ‘Sycamore Girl’, a song they wrote together. I know a couple doing a duet together sounds like the wettest thing on the planet but somehow they managed to get away with it. It’s just a really sweet, genuine song, and neither of them are trying to hard which takes the cringe-factor away.
From the moment Thea started singing the show was stolen for me. I’d heard her voice on the album previously and was blown away, but the real deal was even better. I would have no hesitation in saying her’s is up there with some of my favourite British female voices (alongside the likes of Jorja Smith and Lianne La Havas). She’s just got the whole velvety, soulful shit down and I could listen to her all day.
I could go on about Rex and his Mrs for pages and pages. I can’t wait to see what the two of them will come up with next. And if they break up any time soon at least we’ll have a third album to look forward to, right? All you boys have a hell of a lot to live up to because girls will be taking Snapchat requests for nudes no longer, we want love songs okay? Rex Orange County has made sure of that.
01. The Role Model – Jorja Smith
One of the four tracks off the EP Project 11 released last year this song is anything but imperfect. The lyrics are so relevant and so clever and her voice is insane and if you have not heard of her or listened to her music by now where the hell have you been.
Smith is a woman that has completely hit the nail on the head with her beautiful, beautiful voice and immensely important topic choice. Every word rings true and thinking about it, so does every other lyric on the EP. I firmly believe we need more female artists like Jorja Smith as role models, and look forward to listening to anything she lays her hands on in the future because no doubt it will be gold.
WHILE YOU’RE AT IT..
… listen to her BBC Radio 1Xtra Live Lounge performance of ‘Carry Me Home’ with Maverick Sabre. Close your eyes and make sure no one will interrupt the beauty that is this song. Absolute perfection, if you don’t cry take some time to check you have a pulse.