Just last year, it would have been easy to confuse Sam Smith as just another soulful voice fronting dance hits. His vocals for hits by Disclosure and Naughty Boy made it look like his ambition was to be a featured artist rather than the lead.
To the contrary, Sam’s debut album seeks to rebrand him as the male Adele.
Indeed, if there’s one word to describe ‘In The Lonely Hour’, it would be “devastating”. Most of the tracks here seem to trigger emotional destruction. And as Adele’s ‘21’ album proved, this is a very good thing. Chances are you may find yourself singing some of these songs in the shower after a night of romantic sorrow.
It kicks off with UK No.1 ‘Money On My Mind’, which is a misdirection for the heartbreak-focused balladry that follows. This break-beat style is replicated in bonus tracks ‘Restart’ and ‘Reminds Me of You’, both of which, whilst too dancey to belong with the rest of ‘In The Lonely Hour’, are worth buying the deluxe edition for.
Sam’s international breakthrough solo single ‘Stay With Me’ is absolutely gorgeous, displaying his vulnerability in its entire splendor.
‘Like I Can’ is a bit too ‘Rolling In The Deep’ for our liking but the simplicity of ‘Not In That Way’ will win you over quickly.
‘I’m Not The Only One’ and ‘I’ve Told You Now’ are both classy mid-tempo tracks with strings primed to tug at your heartstrings.
The crème de la crème though has to be the album’s next single ‘Leave Your Lover’. It is wounding, painful and full of longing, just the way the line ‘Oh I’m in love with you and you will never know…” is delivered hits like a bullet.
The (standard edition) album closer, ‘Lay Me Down’, builds and builds to a beautiful crescendo that ends the (standard edition) on a high. Seriously though, get the deluxe!
‘In The Lonely Hour’ is a stunning first album; it feels more like a personal conversation with Sam than a commercial album release.
Fair warning though, you may need tissues to listen to this if you’ve recently ended a relationship.
Download: Stay With Me, Leave Your Lover, I’ve Told You Now, Restart.