Words: Raeven T. Bostic
After his hit song “Stay With Me” went global, Sam Smith was dubbed ‘The Ballad King’ and it’s easy to see why with his flawless introduction. In a matter of months, the UK bred soul-singer has earned himself three consecutive UK number ones and a sold out tour in North America. At this rate, Sam won’t be having ‘lonely hours’ for much longer.
At the first listen, opening track ‘Money On My Mind‘ comes across slightly whiny but this only makes the chorus that more memorable. His effortless vocals in the verses justify why the song reached that prestigious top spot on the charts. The song is a perfect introduction that showcases his harmonies, strong vocals, and melodic adaptability. The softly sung ‘Good Thing‘ follows, complete with strings and ukulele. Here, Smith sings his heart out about feeling undeserving of a partner in which the honesty draws you in from the start. Heart tugging lyrics such as “Too much of a good thing/won’t be good for long/All though you make my heart sing/To stay with you would be wrong,” makes this one of the most emotional songs on the album.
‘Stay with Me‘ is one of the album’s special moments, Smith’s voice is full of soul as he chants of his unrequited love, the album’s predominant theme. With the aid of the gospel choir accompanying him towards the end, the song is totally deserving of reaching the US top ten and maybe him snagging a Grammy nomination! [Fingers crossed] Our only complaint about the song, [just like several other top songs on the album] is it isn’t long enough, coming in just under three minutes. His latest single ‘Leave Your Lover‘ is a piano ballad full of sincerity and emotion, despite the singer asking his beloved to leave their lover (as the title suggests) so he can keep his “beating heart at bay“.
‘I’m Not The Only One’ serves as the midway mark on the album, offering a blues vibe, reminiscent of Musiq Soulchild‘s “Just Friends“. Although the lyrics concentrate on an unfaithful lover, the rhythmic tune urges you to clap along rather than dwell on the sadness of the story. His falsetto’s just make our knees weak, which gives good reason to forgive him for being in love with an unfaithful lover. ‘I’ve Told You Now‘ showcases Smith’s vocals at their finest, he spits his words out, begging to be heard by his significant other. “Why the hell/why do you think I come out here on my free will?/Wasting all my precious time,” will be the most quoted/memed lyric from the song. Mark our words!
Although lyrically similar to ‘Leave Your Lover‘ seventh song ‘Like I Can‘ accelerates the pace of the album but comes across as being rushed. Just falling short of three minutes, the ‘revengeful’ song leaves you wanting more. Although the song is great in it’s form, we wish it was recorded in more of a ballad style, with nothing but Sam and a piano! Moving on, Smith puts everything on the line with ‘Life Support‘, appreciative that he has his beloved to keep him sane. His high notes are literally unreachable to the average man, leaving you with your jaw dropped and tingles shooting through your body!! All we can say is ‘YAAASSSSSS’!!!!’
In penultimate track ‘Not in That Way‘, is another soulful ballad, that puts the spotlight completely on Sam’s mesmerizing vocals. The lyrics are so emotional and relate able, it’s almost as if Sam is singing your own personal story. ‘Lay Me Down‘ however, brings the album to a close, the songwriting giving off a similar vibe to Emeli Sande’s ‘Next To You.‘ So pure, vocally powerful, and lyrically beautiful, making this our favorite song on the album.
Sam Smith has also been named ‘The male Adele’ and one listen to ‘In The Lonely Hour’, there’s no way you can deny. With a heavy theme of unrequited love, all of the songs share a common soul thread, with each song sure to tug on your heart strings in some way. From Smith’s previous collaborations with Naughty Boy and Disclosure, we know this man is not just a one-hit wonder, and hopefully will bring a lot more to the table with that all important second album. But for now, we’ll enjoy his debut effort!!
Songs You Can’t Skip: ‘Lay Me Down’, ‘Stay With Me,’ & Life Support