ARTIST: Sam Smith
TITLE: In the Lonely Hour
YEAR RELEASED: 2014
CHART ACTION: #2 US, #1 UK
SINGLES: Money on My Mind (#107 US, #1 UK), Stay with Me (#2 US, #1 UK), I’m Not the Only One (#5 US, #3 UK), Like I Can (#99 US, #9 UK), Lay Me Down (#8 US, #15 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not on the radio
LINEUP: Sam Smith and a boatload of session musicians, producers, etc.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Angelic voiced English singer-songwriter breaks out big time as a solo artist after collaborating with Disclosure, and his voice and material meld effortlessly.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: He’s kind of a throwback, in a way. Not really a crooner, because he’s got a high tenor, but he’s definitely one that is more of a love song / torch singer. What is appealing about Smith is that his songwriting is on par with his vocal ability.
Unlike some other pop stars, the album’s deep cuts are just as well-crafted and thought out as the singles. Even though there are a lot of producers and engineers, the album just sounds good, and that’s important. The arrangements are fitting, not forced, and while it sounds great on the radio, it’s not built especially for that medium.
Smith’s debut showed that there’s still good musical craftsmanship in today’s pop music.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Yes, that’s right, he did unwittingly plagiarize “I Won’t Back Down” for “Stay with Me”, but just a little, and Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne get a 12.5% cut of that song. Well, that’ll help the bank account a bit.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, at nine: Deluxe, European, Google Play, Target, three in Japan, a special deluxe and a Drowning Shadows edition. $$ on the prize.
GRADE: A-: I really like this. There aren’t many negatives, and it’s well done.