The weight on Sam Smith’s shoulders at the moment is enormous. The 22-year-old singer/songwriter has been tipped for big things picking up the BRIT Critics’ Choice Award and topping the BBC’s Sound of 2014 poll. Before he released his album on Monday, he scored two solo number one singles (Money On My Mind and Stay With Me) and topped the charts last year with Naughty Boy on La La La. With the eyes of the music industry on him, can Sam live up to expectations with his debut album In The Lonely Hour?
The first thing we want to get out of the way is the ‘male Adele’ labelling that Sam has found himself stuck with. The only similarities between the two are that they are phenomenal vocalists and they both won the BRIT Critics’ Choice Award. Musically the two are nothing alike and honestly we think it’s a bit lazy for people to be labelling Sam before he’s even had a chance to show us what he can do.
In The Lonely Hour is a refreshingly personal and honest body of work that Sam has revealed is about unrequited love. The album opens with number 1 single Money On My Mind which is one of the more uptempo tracks. For our tastes it’s one of the more over-produced numbers on the album and Sam shines when the arrangements are simpler like on album closer Lay Me Down.
At the centre of In The Lonely Hour is Sam’s incredible voice. He has a little shade of Antony Hegarty at times, particularly in his lower range, and he is able to scale quite the range. His quivering vibrato is put to good use across the record but is most effective on the emotive Leave Your Lover. The track also utilises his falsetto which is stunning.
Highlights on the record include the gentle beat of Good Thing, the timeless soul of I’m Not The Only One and the gorgeously haunting I’ve Told You Now. Current number 1 Stay With Me is a definite standout with its gospel-tinged melodies and powerful lyrics.
In The Lonely Hour certainly has everything necessary to be one of the best-selling albums of the year. Sam is bringing something unique to the current chart climate which is helping him stand out from the crowd. At this point we’d say the buzz is justified but it’ll be album number two that proves whether he’s here for the long haul or not.