David’s back with another scintillating album review… this time he casts his eye over Sam Smith’s ‘The Thrill Of It All’.
If you go back to 2014 and 2015, you couldn’t avoid Sam Smith. His songs were appearing all over radio and playlists the world over as his debut album, which harnessed some major heartbreak, climbed the charts.
His unique voice and perspective meant people paid attention and also makes a follow up record a challenge.
After winning an Oscar for his James Bond theme, he disappeared. And to be honest, this was a good thing.
Watching Sam on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ speaking about his creative process for this record, he explained that he needed to live life a bit more so that he’d have something to say.
Collaborating mostly with his previous collaborator James Napier, ‘The Thrill Of It All’ doesn’t hit quite the same heights as his debut, but it has some brilliantly elegant moments to share.
Firstly, you can’t go past first single ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’. It’s an epic lead single and one that is instantly recognisable as a Sam Smith song. If his distinct vocals didn’t give it away, the delivery would.
Featuring a clean vocal delivery, an amazing choir and enough layers of instrumentation to sink a ship, this one hits you square in the face. It’s a high standard to start out with and ambitious to continue through a whole album.
‘Burning’ is another song which instantly has a religious-like vibe to it. It’s bone-chillingly arranged and it’s as dramatic as it gets. In what appears to be a fairly personal song about a break up, you can feel both sides of emotions coming through. There’s the pain of enduring the end of a relationship but balanced with the freedom of letting go.
Another highlight on ‘The Thrill Of It All’ are the musical arrangements. They have been masterfully created to pair beautifully with Sam’s voice. Throughout you get the sense of cohesion; there are no songs that feel like they don’t belong and that’s thanks to having a couple of great executive producers on board. But this is both a blessing and a burden.
Where I feel like ‘The Thrill Of It All’ falls short is on variety. Clocking in at just 35 minutes for the standard edition, there isn’t enough time to feel all spectrums of emotion related to his messages. Even with its short run time, it’s hard not to feel bored or disengaged at times.
And the bonus tracks? Forget about them. Having a collection that sounds quite similar can be tricky to balance out and I’m not sure this has been successfully done here.
I agree it would be hard to follow up such a monster debut album with something equally amazing, but Sam has pulled together a good effort. It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t need to be.
I suspect this album is a grower and over time the songs will mature and grow into themselves.
For now though, I am left longing for a bit more.
VERDICT : 3/5.
MUST LISTEN : Too Good At Goodbyes, Burning, No Peace.