British R&B newcomer Jorja Smith does an old groove proud | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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British R&B newcomer Jorja Smith does an old groove proud

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Twenty-year-old British R&B singer Jorja Smith hasn’t broken any new ground on her singles; her style is resolutely retro, with her throaty, jazz-tinged vocals sliding over smoky grooves. If that sounds boring, you should probably skip on down the playlist to some other artist. If throaty, jazz-tinged vocals and smoky grooves are your thing, though, you’ll want to check Smith out. Her highest-profile performance so far is probably her guest spot on “Get It Together,” a track from Drake’s More Life, where she runs her voice sensuously over and around a lounge beat by Black Coffee. By the time Drake comes in for his verse, you wish he wouldn’t. Smith’s own recent single, “Teenage Fantasy,” has a groove slowed down to Sade tempos, and her singing mixes Sade’s ease with some of Amy Winehouse’s urgency. The best moment in the song is the very end, though; over the last few seconds, the music cuts out and Smith delivers the final syllables playfully before dissolving into a giggle. Her intimate style and improvisatory chops make her a striking and delightful live performer who’s worth getting out to see on a Tuesday night—though with any luck she’ll be coming back through Chicago for many years to come.   v

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