Friday, June 13, 2014

Sam Smith, In the lonely hour: One-sided love balladry in the search for identity

After reaching the tops of music lists worldwide with two massive hit singles with Disclosure (Latch) and Naughty Boy (La la la), Sam Smith releases his debut album in the lonely hour, a heartbroken balladry of the one in the shadow. His debut single, Lay me down, a beautiful tune on the verge of being a lullaby, '' told me not to cry when you're gone, but the feeling's overwhelming, it's much too strong...'', is where Sam Smith is on his own ground.

The sophomore single, Money on my mind, one of the two up-tempos from the album, is both cutting-edge and retro production-wise, whereas the other up-tempo, Restart, is a poor Whitney Houston/Beyoncé impersonation, but still comes across as amazingly soothing, especially in the verses. And it’s all thanks to his voice. All of this. Just thanks to that sheer power in his voice, but even before that, he bought us with his impeccable falsettos and his soothing lower register. The identity of the album is unknown. However, what Sam Smith has to offer is a special nuance of bitterness and heartbreak, both gnarled and beautifully molded. And this time it’s thanks to his personality, which we cannot but like. And when Mary J. Blige steps in for a duet, a new rendition of Stay with me,  you know that this guy has definitely something to offer, and my guess is he lured her with that suffering in his voice which they both share. The song is plain and simple but pristine, which is regarded as art today.

Other than that, I would definitely recommend a bluesy tune, I’m Not the Only One, in the style of John Mayer, guitar-wise, a tune you sing in a bar, wasted, alone since everybody else has gone home, sticking it to the universe with a slice of optimism left in your pocket. The optimism coming from his age maybe, it’s still to see on his sophomore album, but for now Sam Smith is safe and sound and luckily has all the attention a rookie in the music industry, especially in this genre, can get. And also, thanks to his collaborations with the godfather of the Third Brit Invasion, Eg White, as well as Fraser T. Smith and Steve Fitzmaurice, his album stands among the best releases of the year.

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