Sam Smith - In the Lonely Hour (photo:: Capitol Records)
Album reviews
Artist:
Sam Smith
Album:
In the Lonely Hour
Release year:
2014
Label:
Capitol
29 September 2014 / by Daryl Wallbank (author)

If you listen to Top 40 radio, you’ve heard Sam Smith. He’s that guy with the voice that doesn’t quite seem real.

His debut album, In the Lonely Hour, was released in May and has already produced the hit singles “Stay” and “Money On My Mind,” while reaching #2 on the US pop music charts. Not bad for a 22-year-old.

The reason for his success is pretty easy to figure out: it’s that magical, almost inhuman voice of his. He hits, and holds notes that are pitch perfect. His falsetto is unbelievable. And hearing him perform live – be it on Late Night with David Letterman or more recently as part of this year’s iTunes Festival – Smith’s sound is the real deal. He doesn’t require pop music’s Viagra, AutoTune, to enhance his voice.

There are some real stand-outs on the album. In the soulful “I’m Not the Only One,” you can picture him dressed in a crushed velvet dinner jacket, crooning in a dark and smoky night club; the audience silently sipping at their cocktails, mesmerized.

And Naughty Boy’s 2013 hit “La La La,” is a refreshingly unique pop song. The melancholy behind Smith’s vocals juxtaposed against a child’s sample of “la la la” and layered above a catchy drum beat is unforgettable. Ear worm? You bet!

The album is just shy of being great. The problem: it’s mired in self-pity. Smith admitted that most of the songs reflect his struggle with unrequited love for another man. With so much “woe is me” whining going on, this collection can seem a little depressing and monotone. A bit more variety in tempo, and theme, would have gone a long way.

That said, In the Lonely Hour is worth a listen. Sam Smith’s sound is unique, and he makes a great addition to anyone’s music collection.

 

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The author

Daryl Wallbank

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