Best New Music: Robert Finley + Jorja Smith



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It’s Friday, which means it’s time for Spark’s music expert and iconic L.A. radio DJ Nic Harcourt to weigh in on what new music he’s got on repeat at the moment.

Robert Finley: Souled Out On You

Roots and soul singer Robert Finley took his time getting around to his recorded music career. Finley first picked up a guitar at the age of 11 and cut his musical chops with the US Army. He’d signed up as a Helicopter mechanic in 1970 but fortuitously was asked to join the army’s band, and spent his service as a guitarist and bandleader. After the army and now back home in Louisiana he worked as a carpenter and worked part-time as a street performer and busker. In 2015 he was deemed legally blind and had to retire from his work as a carpenter. These were difficult days, but fate was about to smile on this sharecropper’s son when the Music Maker Relief Foundation was made aware of him and helped him book tours with other older blues musicians and in 2016 at age 63 he released his debut studio album, Age Don’t Mean a Thing and armed with great reviews Robert Finley’s real music career began. 

Teaming up with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach who calls Finley “the greatest living soul singer,” the pair worked on a soundtrack for the graphic novel Murder Ballads, following it up in 2017 with his second album Goin’ Platinum. Up next comes his third full length Sharecroppers Son, with Auerbach once again behind the studio console and pulling in a whole host of studio blues veterans who have worked with everyone from Elvis Presley to Wilson Pickett and Isaac Hayes. They’ll be playing on the songs that he and Finley wrote together. New on my New Music New Artists playlist this week is the first single “Souled Out On You”. Finley says “It’s about someone who takes on everything in the relationship. All the good and the bad and even after all of that, they notice that it just isn’t going to work out and the relationship has run its course. I took all I could take and I’m starting my life over.” (Hey, every songwriter over 40 gets to have at least one divorce song) The track finds Finley’s voice skittering from deeply gut-wrenching on verses like “Aint it a pity, its a crying shame, I’m in the heart of the city and I still feel the shame” to a falsetto chorus “Souled out on you it’s sad but its true after all we’ve been through, I’m just souled out on you”.

With Auerbach on guitar and a killer band behind him Sharecroppers Son, is out May 21 on Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound records. 

For fans of: Dr. John, Durand Jones & The Indications, Charles Bradley, Fantastic Negrito

Jorja Smith: Addicted

Hailing from Walsall in the British Midlands (and not that far from my hometown of Birmingham) Jorja Smith wowed us with her debut album Lost & Found in 2018. She has since followed up with a series of singles and collaborations including “Be Honest,” “Come Over,” “Kiss Me in the Morning,” and a cover of the St. Germain classic “Rose Rouge.” Working with artists like Stormzy, Kendrick Lamar, Burna Boy, and Popcaan, Smith has established herself as a genre-defying writer and vocalist. Pitchfork described her as “making timeless soul music for right now.” Her first new material for 2021 is a track titled “Addicted”, and in a recent interview with  i-D, the 23-year-old described the song as being about “not receiving the full attention from someone that you should. Whether that be a partner, a parent or a friend; just someone who should be giving back what you give to them. That person should be addicted to you and instead, they give their energy to something else that maybe they shouldn’t.” The song is new on my playlist this week and also comes with one of the most intriguing and fun videos made during lockdown. Smith plays dress up at home, takes a late-night drive and hits a couple of outside locations that find her dancing in a field with fireworks behind her and even sitting on a horse “I’ve always wanted to get on a horse in a video, and so we did that too”

Checkout the song on this week’s playlist and/or the video Smith co-directed with Savanah Leaf.

For fans of: H.E.R. Lauryn Hill, Solange, Amy Winehouse

Meet The Scientists,
The Artists,
Community Leaders,
The Chefs,
The Educators,
The Investors
and The Innovators
Who are Spark.

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Meet The Scientists, The Artists, Community Leaders, The Chefs, The Educators, The Investors and The Innovators Who are Spark.