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A showcase for Sam Smith’s talent for balladry.
on June 17, 2014
"In The Lonely Hour” is the debut album by English singer-songwriter Sam Smith, and follows after the release of his EP “Nirvana” late last year. On this showcase for his talent for soaring balladry, Smith draws mainly from American-style soul-pop while he displays an impressive vocal range. Although this record is not completely ballad heavy, it does feature mainly ballads, filled with powerful hooks and gospel choirs.
The catchy “Money On My Mind” was earlier released as a very successful single, and not only served as a great harbinger for this debut album, but it is also a perfect album opener and lead-up to the other songs, like the drenched in ‘60s strings and acoustic flutters “Good Thing.” The gospel-tinged “Stay With Me” shows some classic soul piano balladry, as Smith tugs at your heartstrings while he sings over sweeping strings and reverberant piano chords: “This ain’t love it’s clear to see, But darling stay with me.” This is followed by the acoustic ballad “Leave Your Lover,” a strings and light guitar plucks-infused track about being unlucky in love.
Then we segue into the country-soul of “I'm Not The Only One.” a Tom Waits-like piano track, before moving on to “I've Told You Now,” another ballad about an unrequited love situation. The anthemic pop track “Like I Can” is a more modern sounding song, as is the strings and piano-laced ballad “Life Support,” with its lolloping dubstep beats and indie-rock guitars. Then we come to another country-soul ditty, “Not in That Way,” before we move on to the gospel-ish “Lay Me Down,” a piano-led ballad that starts slowly as Smith pours out his heart to the person he loves, but builds up to an explosive, string-drenched finale.
The up-tempo, very '80s disco-ish “Restart” is followed by an acoustic version of “Latch,” better known in the club/EDM Disclosure-version that was their breakthrough hit in 2013 and on which Sam was guest-vocalist, but I must say, I like this ballad version much better. Then we close the album with the Naughty Boy’s number one infectious summer hit “La La La” on which Sam was also a collaborative vocalist and “Make It To Me,” a powerful piano-ballad about looking for a soul-mate: “You’re the one designed for me, A distant stranger that I will complete.”
The record includes production and co-songwriting from Fraser T Smith (Plan B, CeeLo Green), Two Inch Punch (Lianne La Havas), Simon Aldred and Eg White (Adele, Will Young). Artistically Sam Smith, who co-wrote all the songs, shows similarities with British colleagues like Emeli Sandé, Adele and Michael Kiwanuka. This debut-album is filled with the kind of pop that is likely to dominate the charts for a while, as these tracks will appeal to a wide range of music lovers. Fully recommended!